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Cephalalgia. 1997 May;17(3):153-8.

Direct evidence for central sites of action of zolmitriptan (311C90): an autoradiographic study in cat.

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Institute of Neurology, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London, UK.


The trigeminovascular system consists of bipolar neurons which innervate pain-sensitive intracranial structures and projecting to neurons in the superficial laminae of the caudal trigeminal nucleus and of the dorsal horns of C1 and C2. The serotonin (5HT1B/D) agonist zolmitriptan (311C90) has been shown to be effective in the treatment of acute attacks of migraine and experimental data suggest that it may have both peripheral and central sites of action. This study sought to further investigate possible central effects of zolmitriptan (311C90) by examining its distribution in the central nervous system. Specific binding of [3H]-zolmitriptan was determined both ex vivo and in vitro in the cat brain. For the ex vivo studies, cats were anaesthetized with halothane and alpha-chloralose (60 mg/kg intraperitoneal). A femoral vein catheter was inserted for injection of the [3H]-zolmitriptan and then 1 h after injection the brain removed. For the in vitro studies fresh frozen brain slices were incubated with labelled and masking concentrations of zolmitriptan. The distribution of [3H]-zolmitriptan was determined using quantitative autoradiographic methods. The in vitro work demonstrated specific binding of [3H]-zolmitriptan in the superficial laminae of the trigeminal nucleus caudalis and dorsal horns of the C1 and C2 cervical spinal cord. The density of binding was 53 +/- 9 fmol/mg for the trigeminal nucleus caudalis, 47 +/- 7 fmol/mg for C1 and 50 +/- 6 fmol/mg for C2. The ex vivo work demonstrated binding in anatomically identical areas which was less dense than that seen with the in vitro method. These data confirm the existence of a population of receptors that specifically bind zolmitriptan following systemic administration. These receptors may, in part, be responsible for its clinical efficacy and reinforce the importance of central trigeminal neurons as a possible site of action of anti-migraine drugs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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