Nitric oxide release triggers migraines.

Nitric oxide release triggers migraines.

Unraveling the Mystery of Nitric Oxide and Migraines

migraine

Migraine headaches are known for their intensity and repetition, often accompanied by throbbing or pulsating sensations that can linger for days. These episodes can greatly impact a person’s daily life, hindering their ability to carry out everyday activities. While researchers have discovered that substances releasing nitric oxide can induce migraines in experiments, the exact mechanisms behind this phenomenon remain unclear. One possibility is that reactive nitroxidative species, such as peroxynitrite, might be responsible for triggering these painful attacks1.

Nitric oxide is a naturally occurring molecule in the body that serves various functions, including vasodilation (widening of blood vessels), neurotransmission, and immune response regulation2. It is even intentionally administered as a therapeutic agent in some medical contexts. However, when a substance that releases nitric oxide is introduced, it has the potential to trigger a migraine headache, causing discomfort and pain. The exact chain of events and mechanisms through which this occurs is still being investigated.

In a recent study published in the journal JNeurosci, researchers sought to explore the involvement of peroxynitrite in causing pain in two different models of migraine headaches3. They used a mouse model that mimics migraines by subjecting the mice to stress for three days or stimulating the tissue lining their brains with an inflammatory substance. After the initial pain responses subsided, the researchers tested if the mice became more sensitive to pain after administering a small dose of the nitric oxide-releasing substance or the inflammatory substance4.

To assess changes, the researchers measured the mice’s pain responses, examined specific molecules related to pain, and observed the nerve activity associated with pain. They also utilized chemicals that can neutralize or remove peroxynitrite to gauge the effects on the mice’s pain levels, pain-related molecules, and nerve activity. The results of the study indicate that peroxynitrite likely plays a role in causing migraines5.

When the researchers administered chemicals to reduce peroxynitrite, they observed a lessening of the increased pain sensitivity caused by stress and the nitric oxide-releasing substance. However, the treatment did not affect the increased sensitivity caused by the inflammatory substance. Additionally, these chemicals helped lower the levels of peroxynitrite markers in the nerves and the tissue lining the brain, while also reducing overactivity in the nerves. Interestingly, one of these chemicals appeared to improve mitochondrial function (energy production in cells) in male mice that had been stressed and exposed to the nitric oxide-releasing substance6.

These findings provide strong evidence of peroxynitrite’s involvement in migraines and suggest that targeting this molecule could potentially lead to new treatments for migraines. Dr. Gregory Dussor, a professor and chair of the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Texas at Dallas, who is also the senior author of the study, explained the significance of their work. He highlighted that the reactive nitrogen species, peroxynitrite, created when nitric oxide reacts with other substances within the body, seems to be an important contributor to the effects of nitric oxide in migraines7.

Dr. Huma Sheikh, an assistant professor of neurology at the Icahn-Mt Sinai School of Medicine and the CEO of NY Neurology of Medicine, who was not involved in the research, commented on the study’s findings as well. She praised the research for shedding light on why nitric oxide acts as a trigger for migraines in some individuals. Dr. Sheikh emphasized that peroxynitrite breakdown likely serves as a final trigger when an individual’s threshold is already low. Targeting peroxynitrite may be a potential way to help prevent migraines by inhibiting this molecule or its after-effects8.

Although these findings open up exciting possibilities for potential migraine treatments, more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms at play. Dr. Dussor acknowledges that while nitric oxide is problematic in migraines, eliminating it would have detrimental consequences for regulating blood pressure. On the other hand, peroxynitrite does not play a significant role in blood pressure regulation. By targeting peroxynitrite, it may be possible to treat migraine attacks without impacting blood pressure9.

In conclusion, this research provides intriguing insights into the complex relationship between nitric oxide, peroxynitrite, and migraines. Understanding the mechanisms behind these headaches can pave the way for innovative migraine treatments that target peroxynitrite. As scientists strive to unravel the mysteries of migraines, further advancements in this field could bring relief to the millions who suffer from these debilitating headaches.


References:


  1. Researchers are looking into how nitric oxide releases may trigger migraine headaches. (Medical News Today)↩︎

  2. Researchers are looking into how nitric oxide releases may trigger migraine headaches. (Medical News Today)↩︎

  3. Researchers are looking into how nitric oxide releases may trigger migraine headaches. (Medical News Today)↩︎

  4. Researchers are looking into how nitric oxide releases may trigger migraine headaches. (Medical News Today)↩︎

  5. Researchers are looking into how nitric oxide releases may trigger migraine headaches. (Medical News Today)↩︎

  6. Researchers are looking into how nitric oxide releases may trigger migraine headaches. (Medical News Today)↩︎

  7. Researchers are looking into how nitric oxide releases may trigger migraine headaches. (Medical News Today)↩︎

  8. Researchers are looking into how nitric oxide releases may trigger migraine headaches. (Medical News Today)↩︎

  9. Researchers are looking into how nitric oxide releases may trigger migraine headaches. (Medical News Today)↩︎