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The Role of Glutamate and its Receptors in Migraine

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Glutamate (Glu) is the principal excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Its receptors are classified into ionotropic receptors, which are ion channels and include NMDA, AMPA and kainate receptors, named after the agonists that selectively bind to them, and metabotropic receptors, which are G-protein coupled receptors. The trigeminal system is considered to play a key role in migraine pathophysiology, trafficking pain signals from the head and face to the trigeminal nucleus caudalis. The role of glutamate in the pathophysiology of migraine is implicated by data from animal and human studies. Animal studies include experiments of cortical spreading depression, studies of c-fos protein expression in trigeminal nucleus caudalis, studies of plasma protein extravasation and electrophysiological studies. Human studies investigating the role of Glu in migraine pathogenesis measured the levels of Glu in plasma, platelets and cerebrospinal fluid, studied its effect on migraine symptoms and examined the effect of Glu in modulating sensitization. Findings from both the animal and the human studies suggest a link between glutamate and migraine and further suggest that glutamate plays a key role in migraine mechanisms. In the future, efforts should be made to further investigate the role of glutamate in migraine pathogenesis and, subsequently, in migraine treatment.





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Keywords: AMPA; Glutamate; NMDA; cortical spreading depression; kainate; metabotropic receptors; migraine; neuronal hyperexcitability

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2007

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  • CNS & Neurological Disorders - Drug Targets aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments on the medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, molecular biology, genomics and biochemistry of contemporary molecular targets involved in neurological and central nervous system (CNS) disorders e.g. disease specific proteins, receptors, enzymes, genes. Each issue of the journal will contain a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics on drug targets involved in neurological and CNS disorders. As the discovery, identification, characterization and validation of novel human drug targets for neurological and CNS drug discovery continues to grow; this journal will be essential reading for all pharmaceutical scientists involved in drug discovery and development.
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