Deficient energy metabolism is associated with low free magnesium in the brains of patients with migraine and cluster headache

Raffaele Lodi, Stefano Iotti, Pietro Cortelli, Giulia Pierangeli, Sabina Cevoli, Valeria Clementi, Stefano Soriani, Pasquale Montagna, Bruno Barbiroli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We used phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy to assess in vivo the brain cytosolic free magnesium concentration and the free energy released by the reaction of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) hydrolysis (ΔGATPhyd), the latter being an index of the cell's bioenergetics condition. We studied 78 patients with migraine in attack-free periods (7 with migraine stroke, 13 with migraine with prolonged aura, 37 with migraine with typical aura or basilar migraine, and 21 with migraine without aura), and 13 patients with cluster headache. In the occipital lobes of all subgroups of migraine and in cluster headache patients cytosolic free [Mg2+] as well as the free energy released by the reaction of ATP hydrolysis were significantly reduced. Among migraine patients, the level of free energy released by the reaction of ATP hydrolysis and the cytosolic free [Mg2+] showed a trend in keeping with the severity of clinical phenotype, both showing the lowest values in patients with migraine stroke and the highest in patients with migraine without aura. These results support our current hypothesis that the reduction in free [Mg2+] in tissues with mitochondrial dysfunction is secondary to the bioenergetics deficit, and are against a primary role of low brain cytosolic free [Mg2+] in causing the bioenergetics deficit in headache.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-441
Number of pages5
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2001



  • Brain bioenergetics
  • Cluster headache
  • Magnesium
  • Migraine
  • Phosphorus MR spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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