By Mohammad Sohail Asghar, Lino Becerra, Henrik B. W. Larsson, David Borsook, and Messoud Ashina | PLoS ONE | March 18, 2016
Intravenous infusion of calcitonin-gene-related-peptide (CGRP) provokes headache and migraine in humans. Mechanisms underlying CGRP-induced headache are not fully clarified and it is unknown to what extent CGRP modulates nociceptive processing in the brain. To elucidate this we recorded blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) signals in the brain by functional MRI after infusion of CGRP in a double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study of 27 healthy volunteers. BOLD-signals were recorded in response to noxious heat stimuli in the V1-area of the trigeminal nerve. In addition, we measured BOLD-signals after injection of sumatriptan (5-HT1B/1D antagonist).
Brain activation to noxious heat stimuli following CGRP infusion compared to baseline resulted in increased BOLD-signal in insula and brainstem, and decreased BOLD-signal in the caudate nuclei, thalamus and cingulate cortex. Sumatriptan injection reversed these changes.
The changes in BOLD-signals in the brain after CGRP infusion suggests that systemic CGRP modulates nociceptive transmission in the trigeminal pain pathways in response to noxious heat stimuli.