Pharmacological modulation of ventral tegmental area neurons elicits changes in trigeminovascular sensory processing and is accompanied by glycemic changes: Implications for migraine

Margarida Martins-Oliveira, Simon Akerman, Philip R. Holland, Isaura Tavares, Peter J. Goadsby

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Abstract

Background: Imaging migraine premonitory studies show increased midbrain activation consistent with the ventral tegmental area, an area involved in pain modulation and hedonic feeding. We investigated ventral tegmental area pharmacological modulation effects on trigeminovascular processing and consequent glycemic levels, which could be involved in appetite changes in susceptible migraine patients. Methods: Serotonin and pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide receptors immunohistochemistry was performed in ventral tegmental area parabrachial pigmented nucleus of male Sprague Dawley rats. In vivo trigeminocervical complex neuronal responses to dura mater nociceptive electrical stimulation, and facial mechanical stimulation of the ophthalmic dermatome were recorded. Changes in trigeminocervical complex responses following ventral tegmental area parabrachial pigmented nucleus microinjection of glutamate, bicuculline, naratriptan, pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide-38 and quinpirole were measured, and blood glucose levels assessed pre- and post-microinjection. Results: Glutamatergic stimulation of ventral tegmental area parabrachial pigmented nucleus neurons reduced nociceptive and spontaneous trigeminocervical complex neuronal firing. Naratriptan, pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide-38 and quinpirole inhibited trigeminovascular spontaneous activity, and trigeminocervical complex neuronal responses to dural-evoked electrical and mechanical noxious stimulation. Trigeminovascular sensory processing through modulation of the ventral tegmental area parabrachial pigmented nucleus resulted in reduced circulating glucose levels. Conclusion: Pharmacological modulation of ventral tegmental area parabrachial pigmented nucleus neurons elicits changes in trigeminovascular sensory processing. The interplay between ventral tegmental area parabrachial pigmented nucleus activity and the sensory processing by the trigeminovascular system may be relevant to understand associated sensory and homeostatic symptoms in susceptible migraine patients.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCephalalgia
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • blood glucose
  • migraine
  • naratriptan
  • nociception
  • PACAP
  • Ventral tegmental area

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