Different levels of cortical excitability reflect clinical fluctuations in migraine

Department of Neurosciences, Catholic University, Italy.
Cephalalgia (Impact Factor: 4.89). 04/2013; 33(12). DOI: 10.1177/0333102413482199
Source: PubMed


In a previous study we demonstrated that high-frequency oscillations (HFOs) elicited by median nerve stimulation are significantly correlated to clinical fluctuations of migraine. We aimed at verifying whether clinical fluctuations and HFO changes are correlated to N20 somatosensory evoked potential (SEP) recovery cycle, which is likely to reflect the functional refractoriness of primary somatosensory cortex neurons.

We analysed both HFOs and N20 SEP recovery cycle to paired stimulation in 21 migraine patients and 18 healthy volunteers.

Shortened recovery cycle correlated with low-amplitude HFOs as well as with clinical worsening. By contrast, prolonged recovery cycle correlated with enhanced HFOs, as well as with spontaneous clinical improvement.

In our migraine patients the strict relationship between presynaptic HFO amplitude and N20 recovery function suggests that changes of both parameters might be caused by modifications of the thalamo-cortical drive. Our findings suggest that the thalamo-cortical drive during interictal stages could fluctuate from abnormally high to abnormally low levels, depending on mechanisms which reduce cortical excitability in spontaneously improving patients, and increase cortical excitability in spontaneously worsening ones.

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    • "migraine and contribute to increased cortical arousal or cortical hyperexcitability in migraine (Bjork and Sand, 2008; Coppola et al., 2005, 2007; Restuccia et al., 2013). The cortical hyperexcitability in migraine could also be caused by decreased intracortical lateral inhibition as shown by visual EP studies (Coppola et al., 2007, 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: Migraine symptoms often include auditory discomfort. Nitroglycerin (NTG)-triggered central sensitization (CS) provides a rodent model of migraine, but auditory brainstem pathways have not yet been studied in this example. Our objective was to examine brainstem auditory evoked potentials (BAEPs) in rat CS as a measure of possible auditory abnormalities. We used four subdermal electrodes to record horizontal (h) and vertical (v) dipole channel BAEPs before and after injection of NTG or saline. We measured the peak latencies (PLs), interpeak latencies (IPLs), and amplitudes for detectable waveforms evoked by 8, 16, or 32 KHz auditory stimulation. At 8 KHz stimulation, vertical channel positive PLs of waves 4, 5, and 6 (vP4, vP5, and vP6), and related IPLs from earlier negative or positive peaks (vN1-vP4, vN1-vP5, vN1-vP6; vP3-vP4, vP3-vP6) increased significantly 2 hours after NTG injection compared to the saline group. However, BAEP peak amplitudes at all frequencies, PLs and IPLs from the horizontal channel at all frequencies, and the vertical channel stimulated at 16 and 32 KHz showed no significant/consistent change. For the first time in the rat CS model, we show that BAEP PLs and IPLs ranging from putative bilateral medial superior olivary nuclei (P4) to the more rostral structures such as the medial geniculate body (P6) were prolonged 2 hours after NTG administration. These BAEP alterations could reflect changes in neurotransmitters and/or hypoperfusion in the midbrain. The similarity of our results with previous human studies further validates the rodent CS model for future migraine research.
    Brain research 05/2014; 1563. DOI:10.1016/j.brainres.2014.03.033 · 2.84 Impact Factor
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    • "In fact, habituation degree may change not only interictally vs. pre-ictally vs. ictally, but also within the pain-free period with the distance since the last or next attack [88]. Moreover, specific genetics influence [76,89] and clinical fluctuations, such as spontaneous clinical worsening or improving of attacks frequency [90,91], may vary the baseline level of thalamocortical activation [92] and then the degree of habituation in migraine [55]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The phenomena of habituation and sensitization are considered most useful for studying the neuronal substrates of information processing in the CNS. Both were studied in primary headaches, that are functional disorders of the brain characterized by an abnormal responsivity to any kind of incoming innocuous or painful stimuli and it's cycling pattern over time (interictal, pre-ictal, ictal). The present review summarizes available data on stimulus responsivity in primary headaches obtained with clinical neurophysiology. In migraine, the majority of electrophysiological studies between attacks have shown that, for a number of different sensory modalities, the brain is characterised by a lack of habituation of evoked responses to repeated stimuli. This abnormal processing of the incoming information reaches its maximum a few days before the beginning of an attack, and normalizes during the attack, at a time when sensitization may also manifest itself. An abnormal rhythmic activity between thalamus and cortex, namely thalamocortical dysrhythmia, may be the pathophysiological mechanism subtending abnormal information processing in migraine. In tension-type headache (TTH), only few signs of deficient habituation were observed only in subgroups of patients. By contrast, using grand-average responses indirect evidence for sensitization has been found in chronic TTH with increased nociceptive specific reflexes and evoked potentials. Generalized increased sensitivity to pain (lower thresholds and increased pain rating) and a dysfunction in supraspinal descending pain control systems may contribute to the development and/or maintenance of central sensitization in chronic TTH. Cluster headache patients are chrarcterized during the bout and on the headache side by a pronounced lack of habituation of the brainstem blink reflex and a general sensitization of pain processing. A better insight into the nature of these ictal/interictal electrophysiological dysfunctions in primary headaches paves the way for novel therapeutic targets and may allow a better understanding of the mode of action of available therapies.
    The Journal of Headache and Pain 07/2013; 14(1):65. DOI:10.1186/1129-2377-14-65 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Habituation deficit, suggesting a deregulation of cortical excitability, represents a typical hallmark of interictal stages of migraine. We previously demonstrated that several neurophysiological markers of altered cortical excitability are significantly correlated to spontaneous clinical fluctuations of migraine. We therefore aimed at verifying whether clinical fluctuations are correlated to specific patterns of somatosensory evoked potential (SEP) habituation. We analyzed habituation after median nerve stimulation of both high-frequency oscillations (HFOs) and N20 SEP in 25 migraine patients and 18 healthy volunteers. Subjects underwent six consecutive series of 500 stimuli. Migraine patients as a whole showed a significant habituation deficit of the N20 response. Moreover, spontaneously worsening patients show a clear potentiation of this wave in the last block of stimuli, whereas in spontaneously improving patients the N20 amplitude remained stable. Presynaptic HFOs were smaller in worsening patients and larger in improving ones, but they did not undergo habituation in patients as well as in healthy subjects. Potentiation of the N20 response in spontaneously worsening migraineurs confirms that the reduction of the thalamocortical drive plays a major role in migraine pathogenesis. Moreover, the stable pattern we observed in spontaneously improving patients suggests that compensatory mechanisms can also play an important role. The normal response to repeated stimuli of HFOs in migraineurs might indicate that, although its initial amount depends on clinical conditions, high-frequency thalamocortical drive remains stable during the stimulation and probably reflects the activity of a buffer mechanism.
    Cephalalgia 10/2013; 34(3). DOI:10.1177/0333102413508241 · 4.89 Impact Factor
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