The effect of estrogen and progesterone on spreading depression in rat neocortical tissues.
ABSTRACT Although gender differences in the incidence of migraine with aura appear to be related to high circulating levels of ovarian hormones, the underlying mechanisms are not yet fully understood. Several studies have suggested a major role for spreading depression (SD) in the pathogenesis and symptomatology of migraine with aura. To investigate a possible role of SD in the association of high female hormones and attacks of migraine with aura, the effects of beta-estradiol and progesterone on SD were studied in rat neocortical tissues. Application of both hormones enhanced the repetition rate as well as the amplitude of SD in neocortical slices treated with hypotonic artificial cerebrospinal fluid. beta-Estradiol and progesterone also dose dependently increased the amplitude of SD induced by KCl microinjection. Both hormones exhibited a pronounced, persisting, and significant enhancement of long-term potentiation of the field excitatory postsynaptic potential in the neocortical tissues. The changes in SD characteristics in the presence of estrogen and progesterone may responsible for increased migraine with aura attacks associated by high female hormones. These hormones may exert their effects on SD via facilitation of synaptic transmission.