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Keywords:

  • Vasculature;
  • trigeminal nerve;
  • migraine

An understanding of migraine must be based on data concerning the anatomy and physiology of the pain-sensitive intracranial structures. Stimulation of the superior sagittal sinus produces changes in brain blood flow and changes in neuropeptide levels similar to those seen in humans during migraine. To better understand the anatomy of the central ramifications of pain-sensitive intracranial structures we have examined the distribution of c-fos immunoreactivity in the monkey when the sinus is stimulated. Six adult Macaca nemestrina monkeys were anaesthetised. The superior sagittal sinus was isolated after a midline craniotomy and a paraffin well created. At 24 h after completion of the surgery the sinus was stimulated electrically for 1 h and the brain subsequently removed and processed for c-fos. In control animals in which the sinus was isolated but not stimulated there was a small amount of c-fos expression in the caudal brainstem and upper cervical spinal cord. Stimulation of the superior sagittal sinus evoked expression of c-fos in the caudal superfical laminae of the trigeminal nucleus and in superficial laminae of the dorsal horn of the C1 level of the upper cervical spinal cord. A lesser amount of c-fos was seen at C2 while no significant labelling above control was observed at C3. These data, while largely confirming the results from the cat concerning the central distribution trigeminovascular afferents, underscore a possibly unique specialisation of trigeminovascular afferents at the C1 level. Given the close evolutionary relationship of the monkey to man it is likely that the cells described in this study represent for primates the nucleus that mediates the pain of migraine.