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Acetazolamide acts on neuromuscular transmission abnormalities found in some migraineurs


Jean Schoenen MD, PhD, University Department of Neurology, CHR Citadelle, Blvd du XIIème de Ligne, 1-B-4000 Liège, Belgium. Tel. and fax 0032.4.2256451, e-mail


Mild subclinical impairment of neuromuscular transmission can be detected with single-fibre electromyography (SFEMG) in subgroups of patients suffering from migraine and could be due to dysfunctioning Ca2+-channels on motor axons controlling stimulation-induced acetylcholine release. Acetazolamide, which is thought to ameliorate ion channel function, was shown effective in familial hemiplegic migraine and episodic ataxia type 2, both of which are associated with mutations of the neuronal Ca2+-channel gene CACNA1A, as well as in aura status. We treated therefore in an open pilot study five non-hemiplegic migraineurs showing mild SFEMG abnormalities with acetazolamide for several weeks. This was followed by a normalization of SFEMG recordings in all patients and by clinical improvement in four. These results support the assumption that the subclinical impairment of neuromuscular transmission found in certain migraineurs might be due to dysfunctioning Ca2+-channels.