The neural mechanism(s) underlying migraine remain poorly defined at present; preclinical and clinical studies show an involvement of CGRP in this disorder. However current evidence pointed out that CGRP does not exert an algogenic action per se, but it is able to mediate migraine pain only if the trigeminal-vascular system is sensitized. The present study was addressed to investigate CGRP-evoked behavior in nitric oxide (NO) sensitized rats, using an experimental model of nitroglycerin induced sensitization of trigeminal system, looking at neuropeptide release from different cerebral areas after the intra-peritoneal (i.p.) administration of NO-donors. CGRP injected into the rat whisker pad did not induce significant changes in face rubbing behavior compared to controls. On the contrary, CGRP injected in animals pre-treated with 10mg/kg nitroglycerin significantly increased the time spent in face rubbing. Nitroglycerin pre-treated animals did not show any rubbing behavior after locally injected saline. Furthermore, the i.p. treatment with nitroglycerin produced an increase of CGRP levels in brainstem and trigeminal ganglia, but not in the hypothalamus and hippocampus. The absolute amounts of CGRP produced in the brainstem were lower compared to those in the trigeminal ganglion; however, after nitroglycerin stimulation the percentage increase was higher in the brainstem. In conclusion, findings presented in this study suggest that CGRP induces a painful behavior in rats only after sensitization of trigeminal system; thus supporting the concept that a genetic as well as acquired predisposition to trigemino- vascular activation represents the neurobiological basis of CGRP nociceptive effects in migraineurs.
- Calcitonin gene-related peptide
- Nitroglycerin (PubChem CID: CID 4510)
- Trigeminal vascular system