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Central sensitization of the trigeminal and somatic nociceptive systems in medication overuse headache mainly involves cerebral supraspinal structures


Zaza Katsarava, University of Essen, Neurology, Hufelandstrasse 55, Essen 45122, Germany. Tel. + 49 20 1723 3856, fax + 49 20 1723 5901, e-mail


Trigeminal and somatic nociceptive systems were studied in controls (n = 15), episodic migraine (n = 16), analgesics (n = 14) and triptan-induced medication overuse headache (MOH) (n = 15) before and after withdrawal. Patients with MOH and comorbid depressive symptoms and depression without headache were studied to investigate the influence of depression. Trigeminal nociception was studied by simultaneous registration of pain-related cortical potentials (PREP) and nociceptive blink reflex (nBR) following nociceptive-specific electrical stimulation of the forehead. Somatic nociception was evaluated using PREP of upper limbs. We found facilitation of both trigeminal and somatic PREP but not of nBR in MOH, which normalized after withdrawal. No differences were found comparing analgesics vs. triptan MOH. No differences were observed between controls and patients with episodic migraine and depression without headache. A transient facilitation was found of trigeminal and somatic nociceptive systems in MOH, which was more pronounced on a supraspinal level.