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NEUROTRANSMITTERS AND THE FIFTH CRANIAL NERVE: IS THERE A RELATION TO THE HEADACHE PHASE OF MIGRAINE?

MichaelA. Moskowitz, J. Romero, JohnF. Reinhard, E. Melamed, DouglasJ. Pettibone
Published 1979 · Medicine

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The headache phase of migraine may develop as the result of an abnormal interaction (and perhaps an abnormal release) of vasoactive neurotransmitters from terminals of the trigeminal nerve with large intracranial and extracranial blood-vessels. These blood-vessels, which dilate during the headache phase of migraine, are thought to receive axonal projections from all three divisions of the trigeminal nerve. Substance P, a potent vasodilating peptide, seems to be released from trigeminal nerve endings in response to nervous stimulation and is involved in the transmission of painful stimuli within the periphery. The vasoactive molecule serotonin, implicated in the pathogenesis of migraine, coexists with substance P in some terminals of the central nervous system and is present within the trigeminal ganglia. Within this nerve serotonin may modulate the function of primary sensory neurons. The abnormal release of substance P or as yet unidentified peptides or other transmitters from the fifth cranial nerve may explain both the hemicranial pain and the vasodilation which are characteristic of the headache of migraine.
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