Indexed on: 06 Dec '08Published on: 06 Dec '08Published in: Cephalalgia
Infusion of nitric oxide (NO) donors is known to induce delayed attacks of migraine and cluster headache or aggravate tension-type headaches in patients suffering from these primary headaches. Previously we have reported that infusion of NO donors in the rat causes delayed neuronal activity in the spinal trigeminal nucleus, which parallels the above clinical observations. Suggesting that endogenous NO production is involved in the generation of primary headaches, we used this animal model of meningeal nociception to determine whether a prolonged increase in NO levels causes an increase in neuronal activity. In anaesthetized rats spinal trigeminal neurons with afferent input from the exposed dura were recorded. Continuous intravenous infusion of the NO donors sodium nitroprusside (25 microg/kg/h) or glycerol trinitrate (250 microg/kg/h) for 2 h induced a persisting increase in neuronal activity but no change in systemic blood pressure. In this activated trigeminal system the calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptor antagonist BIBN4096BS (900 microg/kg) was infused. Spinal trigeminal activity was significantly reduced within minutes and to a similar extent as previously reported in animals not treated with NO. Slow continuous NO infusion may be a model of the active headache phase, and inhibition of CGRP receptors can reverse the induced neuronal activity.