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Cephalalgia. 2018 May;38(6):1138-1147. doi: 10.1177/0333102417727537. Epub 2017 Aug 17.

Inhibition of monoacylglycerol lipase: Another signalling pathway for potential therapeutic targets in migraine?

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1 Laboratory of Neurophysiology of Integrative Autonomic Systems, Headache Science Centre, "C. Mondino" National Neurological Institute, Pavia, Italy.
2 Department of Brain and Behavioral Sciences, University of Pavia, Italy.
3 Department of Health Sciences, University Magna Graecia of Catanzaro, Catanzaro, Italy.
4 Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of California, USA.


Background Drugs that modulate endocannabinoid signalling are effective in reducing nociception in animal models of pain and may be of value in the treatment of migraine. Methods We investigated the anti-nociceptive effects of inhibition of monoacylglycerol lipase (MGL), a key enzyme in the hydrolysis of the 2-arachidonoylglycerol, in a rat model of migraine based on nitroglycerin (NTG) administration. We evaluated c-fos expression in specific brain areas and nociceptive behavior in trigeminal and extra-trigeminal body areas. Results URB602, a reversible MGL inhibitor, did not show any analgesic effect in the tail flick test, but it inhibited NTG-induced hyperalgesia in both the tail flick test and the formalin test applied to the hind paw or to the orofacial area. Quite unexpectedly, URB602 potentiated formalin-induced hyperalgesia in the trigeminal area when used alone. The latter result was also confirmed using a structurally distinct, irreversible MGL inhibitor, JZL184. URB602 did not induce neuronal activation in the area of interest, but significantly reduced the NTG-induced neuronal activation in the ventrolateral column of the periaqueductal grey and the nucleus trigeminalis caudalis. Conclusions These findings support the hypothesis that modulation of the endocannabinoid system may be a valuable approach for the treatment of migraine. The topographically segregated effect of MGL inhibition in trigeminal/extra-trigeminal areas calls for further mechanistic research.


MGL; Nitroglycerin; formalin test; tail flick test

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