Plasma 5-Hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) in Migraine During an Attack-Free Period


  • Eiichiro Nagata MD, PhD,

  • Mamoru Shibata MD, PhD,

  • Junichi Hamada MD, PhD,

  • Toshihiko Shimizu MD, PhD,

  • Yuki Katoh MD,

  • Kyoko Gotoh MD,

  • Norihiro Suzuki MD, PhD

  • From the Department of Neurology, Saitama City Hospital, Saitama, Japan (Dr. Nagata); Department of Neurology, Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan (Drs. Shibata, Katoh, Gotoh, Suzuki); Department of Neurology, Kitasato University School of Medicine, Kanagawa, Japan (Dr. Hamada); and Department of Neurology, National Hospital, Organization Tokyo Medical Center, Tokyo, Japan (Dr. Suzuki).

Address all correspondence to Dr. Eiichiro Nagata, 2560 Mimuro, Midori-ku, Saitama City 336-8522, Japan.


Objective.—We measured the plasma 5-HT, 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), and tryptophan levels in controls, migraine patients with aura (MWA), and migraine patients without aura (MWoA) during an attack-free period.

Background.—Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) has been implicated in the pathophysiology of migraine. The precise relationship between 5-HT and migraine, however, remains unclear.

Methods.—Blood samples in controls, MWA, and MWoA patients during an attack-free period were collected from brachial arteries and analyzed using HPLC.

Results.—The plasma tryptophan and 5-HTP levels were not significantly different between the controls and migraine patients (either MWA or MWoA). However, the plasma 5-HT level in the MWA patients was significantly lower than that in the controls and MWoA patients.

Conclusions.—The present data suggest that reduced levels of 5-HT in MWA may result from either a dysfunction in the enzymes involved in serotonin biosynthesis or a dysfunction in 5-HT release or uptake from platelets and lymphocytes. These findings indicate the existence of a serotonin metabolism dysfunction in MWA patients that may differ from the state of serotonin metabolism in MWoA patients.