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Relevance Of Prostaglandins In Migraine

J Parantainen, H Vapaatalo, E Hokkanen

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Prostaglandins (PG), particularly PGE, may be linked to the pathophysiology of migraine in several important ways. PGE, may “simulate” a migraine attack in healthy volunteers. PGE may be elevated in patients with migraine. In animal experiments and in human infusions, PGEs cause vasodilation and hyperalgesia, both typical reactions of inflammation. The view that vascular headache is an “inflammatory reaction” allows the best concept concerning the local role of PGs and the effectiveness of PG-inhibitors in the treatment of migraine. The local role of PGs may provide a common denominator in several hormonal, neural and other influences on vessels. The common triggers of a migraine attack like menstruation, alcohol and stress influence the PG-system and even the dietary reactions, hormonal influences, sleep and reserpine have some connections with the PG-system. A local role for PGs does not diminish the importance of other pathophysiological mechanisms operating during an attack. On the contrary, PGs may fill in gaps in our understanding of how the overt pain of attacks is produced.