Update on noninvasive neuromodulation for migraine treatment-Vagus nerve stimulation

Jean Schoenen, Anna Ambrosini

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Noninvasive neurostimulation methods are particularly suited for migraine treatment thanks to their most favorable adverse event profile. Among them, noninvasive vagus nerve stimulation (nVNS) has raised great hope because of the role the vagus nerve is known to play in pain modulation, inflammation and brain excitability. We will critically review the clinical studies performed for migraine attack treatment and migraine prevention with the GammaCore® device, which allows cervical vagus nerve stimulation. nVNS is effective for the abortive treatment of migraine attacks, although the effect size is modest and numbers-to-treat appear not superior to those of other noninvasive neurostimulation methods, and inferior to those of oral triptans. The effect of nVNS with the GammaCore® in migraine prevention is not superior to sham stimulation, except possibly in patients with high adherence to the treatment. Both in acute and preventive trials, nVNS was characterized by an outstanding tolerance and safety profile, like the other noninvasive neurostimulation techniques. In physiological animal and human studies, cervical nVNS was shown to generate somatosensory evoked responses, to modulate pain perception and several areas of the cerebral pain network, and to inhibit experimental cortical spreading depression, which are relevant effects for migraine therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-274
Number of pages26
JournalProgress in Brain Research
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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