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Keywords:

  • allergic rhinosinusitis;
  • migraine;
  • sinus headache;
  • trigeminal;
  • parasympathetic

Background.—Secretion of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) from trigeminal nerves and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) from parasympathetic nerves is involved in the pathophysiology of migraine and rhinosinusitis. Analysis of these neuropeptides in human saliva samples can be used as markers of trigeminal and parasympathetic nerve activity in patients between and during attacks as well as in response to specific treatments.

Objective.—To compare the amount of trigeminal sensory and parasympathetic nerve activation by measuring CGRP and VIP levels in the saliva of subjects experiencing noninfectious allergic rhinosinusitis, migraine with sinus symptoms, and no symptoms.

Methods.—Subjects were enrolled in three groups. Group A: subjects without a history of migraine, “sinus” headache, or allergic rhinosinusitis within the previous 6 months. Group B: subjects with chronic recurrent noninfectious rhinosinusitis and no history of migraine or “sinus” headache. Group C: subjects with self-described “sinus” headaches whose symptoms met International Headache Society diagnostic criteria (1.1 or 1.2) for migraine. The total amount of CGRP and VIP present in saliva collected under normal, pathological, and therapeutic conditions was determined by radioimmunoassay. Neuropeptide levels were normalized to total volume and amount of protein, and levels were correlated to onset and change in clinical symptoms.

Results.—Total volume, total protein, and CGRP and VIP levels did not significantly change in saliva collected on consecutive days in the clinic and at the subject's home, respectively. No appreciable change in baseline salivary levels of CGRP and VIP was detected in control subjects. However, baseline salivary levels of CGRP and VIP were significantly elevated between attacks in allergic rhinosinusitis and migraine subjects compared to control values. For rhinosinusitis subjects, the amount of CGRP and VIP during attacks returned to baseline values following treatment with pseudoephedrine and relief of symptoms. Similarly, CGRP and VIP levels during a migraine headache were significantly reduced within 2 hours after sumatriptan treatment and reported symptom relief.

Conclusion.—Correlation of CGRP and VIP saliva levels observed in our study supports physiologically coordinated regulation of trigeminal and parasympathetic nerve activation in allergic rhinosinusitis and migraine patients between and during attacks as well as following treatment. Furthermore, our findings demonstrate that analysis of human saliva neuropeptides may provide a semiquantitative index of pathological and therapeutic states and, therefore, function as a clinical model for studying neuronal mechanisms involved in migraine and rhinosinusitis.