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The NMDA Receptor Antagonist MK-801 Reduces Fos-like Immunoreactivity Within the Trigeminocervical Complex Following Superior Sagittal Sinus Stimulation in the Cat

Classey JD, Knight YE, Goadsby PJ

Brain Res 2001;907:117–124

Expression of Fos protein is an indicator of neuronal perturbation and is readily observed in the caudal medulla and the spinal cord following trigeminovascular nociceptive activation by electrical stimulation of the superior sagittal sinus (SSS) in the cat. It has been shown in the rat that N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor blockade causes a reduction in Fos protein expression after generalized meningeal irritation. We wished to examine if the same relationship was true in the cat, using the same non-competitive NMDA receptor antagonist MK-801, and a trigeminovascular-specific stimulus. A group of experimental animals underwent stimulation following blinded administration of MK-801 (4 mg/kg i.v.); control animals underwent stimulation minus MK-801, and a non-stimulated control animal underwent surgery alone. The regions examined for Fos-like immunoreactivity were the trigeminal nucleus caudalis (TNC) and its caudal extension into the C(1) and C(2) levels of the upper cervical spinal cord. The Fos-positive cell counts for the three regions (TNC, C(1) and C(2)) were grouped together for analysis. In the control stimulated group a median of 78 (56-99, quartile range, n = 4) cells were Fos-positive. In the group treated with MK-801 the median number of Fos-positive cells was reduced to 40 (30-48; P < 0.03, n = 7). The large reduction that was observed in SSS stimulation-evoked Fos protein expression following the administration of MK-801, taken together with electrophysiological data, indicates a role for glutamate in neurotransmission within the trigeminocervical complex. Understanding glutamatergic mechanisms in the trigeminocervical complex offers mechanistic insight and therapeutic possibilities for primary neurovascular headaches, such as migraine.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 July 2004

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