Increased basal nitric oxide plasma concentrations in migraine

D. D'Amico, A. Ferraris, A. Catania, A. Carlin, M. Leone, A. Attanasio, G. Bussone

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The L-arginine-NO pathway is known to give rise to several effects that could be involved in the pathogenesis of migraine (M). These include the regulation of cerebral artery tone, the possible role in neurogenic inflammation and the regulation of pain control, The objective of the study was to explore the L-arginine-NO pathway in M by determining plasma concentrations of NO in migraineurs during a pain-free period compared with healthy control subjects. A total of 84 consecutive patients entered the study, with M without aura (52) or with aura (32), according to IHS criteria. All of them were asked to stop any prophylactic treatment and to compile a headache diary over a period of 2 months after recruitment. One-hundred-twelve healthy subjects were used as controls. In each case venous blood was sampled after overnight fasting, and a diet without red meat or cured meats in the 48 hour preceding sampling. In M patients the sample was taken in a pain-free period. NO was assayed enzymatically as nitrites, using nitrate reductase and Griess reagent. We found significantly higher NO plasma concentrations in M patients than in controls (Mann-Whitney Rank Sum test p 0.005), and this was true also when patients with M without aura or M with aura were considered separately A correlation was found between headache frequency and NO plasma concentrations in M patients (chi square p <0.001). Furthermore NO concentrations were higher in migraineurs with a longer history of illness (Pearson's test p = 0.038). Our results are consistent with a basal activation of the L-arginine-NO pathway in M and suggest a relation between NO concentrations and severity of M.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-111
Number of pages3
JournalEOS Rivista di Immunologia ed Immunofarmacologia
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


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