Oral nitric-oxide donor glyceryl-trinitrate induces sensitization in spinal cord pain processing in migraineurs: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study

Armando Perrotta, Mariano Serrao, Cristina Tassorelli, Natalia Arce-Leal, Elena Guaschino, Grazia Sances, Paolo Rossi, Michelangelo Bartolo, Francesco Pierelli, Giorgio Sandrini, Giuseppe Nappi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Nitric-oxide donor glyceryl-trinitrate (GTN) modulates cerebral and spinal regions that are involved in migraine and pain processing. We hypothesized that in migraineurs, the susceptibility to develop a migraine attack after GTN administration should parallel with an high sensitivity to GTN-induced change in the pain processing at spinal level. We used the temporal summation threshold (TST) of the lower limb nociceptive withdrawal reflex (NWR) and the related pain sensation to study in parallel the time-course of the effect of the GTN administration on the pain processing at spinal level in migraine and healthy subjects. Twenty-eight (21 F; 7 M; mean age 34.2 ± 8.2) migraine and 15 (11 F; 4 M; mean age 35.9 ± 8.9) healthy subjects were recruited in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial. Neurophysiological examinations were carried out before (baseline) and 30′, 60′, 120′, 180′ and 240′ after GTN (0.9 mg sublingual) or placebo administration during two different sessions. In migraineurs, GTN administration was associated to a significant facilitation in temporal summation of pain (reduced TST and increased painful sensation) 60′, 120′ and 180′ after drug intake when compared to baseline, to placebo condition and to controls after GTN intake. Furthermore, in migraineurs who developed migraine after GTN, a significant facilitation in temporal summation of pain was detected 60′, 120′ and 180′ after drug intake when compared to patients without clinical response. In migraineurs the susceptibility to develop migraine attack after GTN administration seems to be a specific trait of a subgroup of patients linked to a supersensitivity of the pain system to GTN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482-490
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Pain (United Kingdom)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2011



  • Glyceryl-trinitrate
  • Migraine
  • Nociceptive withdrawal reflex
  • Sensitization
  • Spinal cord
  • Temporal summation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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