Cerebral vasoreactivity in Andeans and headache at sea level

O. Appenzeller, C. Passino, R. Roach, J. Gamboa, A. Gamboa, L. Bernardi, M. Bonfichi, L. Malcovati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Headache is common in Cerro de Pasco (CP), Peru (altitude 4338 m) and was present in all patients with chronic mountain sickness (CMS) in CP reported here. Forty-seven percent of inhabitants report headache. Twenty-four percent of men have migraine with aura, with an average of 65 attacks a year. We assessed vasoreactivity of the cerebral vessels to CO2 by rebreathing and to NO by the administration of isosorbite dinitrate (IDN), a nitric oxide (NO) donor, using transcranial Doppler ultrasound in the middle cerebral artery (MCA) in natives of CP, some of whom suffered from CMS. We repeated the measurements in Lima (altitude 150 m) in the same subjects within 24 h of arrival. Vasodilatation in the middle cerebral artery supply territory in response to CO2 and NO, both physiologic vasodilators, is defective in Andean natives at altitude and in the same subjects at sea level. Incapacitating migraine can occur with impaired cerebral vasoreactivity to physiologic vasodilators. We propose that susceptibility to migraine might depend in part on gene expression with consequent alterations of endothelial function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-106
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 15 2004


  • Andean natives
  • Cerebral vasoreactivity to CO and NO
  • Hypoxia
  • Migraine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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