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Keywords:

  • Experimental vascular headache;
  • migraine;
  • nitric oxide;
  • NO-cGMP pathway

The molecular mechanisms of migraine pain remain to be determined. Our studies of glyceryl trinitrate (GTN)-induced and histamine-induced headaches have led us to propose that nitric oxide (NO) may be the causative molecule in migraine pain. We also propose that substances capable of inducing experimental vascular headache do so with NO as the common mediator. Finally, we suggest that drugs with antimigraine activity inhibit NO and the cascade of intracellular reactions triggered by NO. We believe these observations provide new insight into the mechanisms of vascular headache. The importance of NO as a potential initiator of the migraine attack indicates new directions for the pharmacological treatment of migraine and other vascular headaches.