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Ann Neurosci. 2012 Apr;19(2):88-94. doi: 10.5214/ans.0972.7531.12190210.

Serotonin and CGRP in migraine.

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Department of Biochemistry, Panjab University, Chandigarh 160014.
Centre for Systems biology & Bioinformatics, Panjab University, Chandigarh.
Biotechnology Branch (U.I.E.T), ; Centre for Stem Cell & Tissue Engineering Panjab University, Chandigarh 160014, INDIA.


Migraine is defined as recurrent attack of headache that are commonly unilateral and accompanied by gastrointestinal and visual disorders. Migraine is more prevalent in females than males with a ratio of 3:1. It is primarily a complex neurovascular disorder involving local vasodilation of intracranial, extracerebral blood vessels and simultaneous stimulation of surrounding trigeminal sensory nervous pain pathway that results in headache. The activation of 'trigeminovascular system' causes release of various vasodilators, especially calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) that induces pain response. At the same time, decreased levels of neurotransmitter, serotonin have been observed in migraineurs. Serotonin receptors have been found on the trigeminal nerve and cranial vessels and their agonists especially triptans prove effective in migraine treatment. It has been found that triptans act on trigeminovascular system and bring the elevated serum levels of key molecules like calcitonin gene related peptide (CGRP) to normal. Currently CGRP receptor antagonists, olcegepant and telcagepant are under consideration for antimigraine therapeutics. It has been observed that varying levels of ovarian hormones especially estrogen influence serotonin neurotransmission system and CGRP levels making women more predisposed to migraine attacks. This review provides comprehensive information about the role of serotonin and CGRP in migraine, specifically the menstrual migraine.


CGRP; Menstrual migraine; Migraine; Serotonin; Trigeminal ganglia

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