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Hypothalamic Activation in Spontaneous Migraine Attacks

Authors

  • Marie Denuelle MD,

    1. From the Neurology Service, Rangueil Hospital, Toulouse, France (Drs. Denuelle, Fabre, and Geraud), INSERM U825, Toulouse, France (Drs. Payoux and Chollet).
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  • Nelly Fabre MD,

    1. From the Neurology Service, Rangueil Hospital, Toulouse, France (Drs. Denuelle, Fabre, and Geraud), INSERM U825, Toulouse, France (Drs. Payoux and Chollet).
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  • Pierre Payoux MD,

    1. From the Neurology Service, Rangueil Hospital, Toulouse, France (Drs. Denuelle, Fabre, and Geraud), INSERM U825, Toulouse, France (Drs. Payoux and Chollet).
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  • Francois Chollet MD,

    1. From the Neurology Service, Rangueil Hospital, Toulouse, France (Drs. Denuelle, Fabre, and Geraud), INSERM U825, Toulouse, France (Drs. Payoux and Chollet).
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  • Gilles Geraud MD

    1. From the Neurology Service, Rangueil Hospital, Toulouse, France (Drs. Denuelle, Fabre, and Geraud), INSERM U825, Toulouse, France (Drs. Payoux and Chollet).
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Dr. Marie Denuelle, Service de Neurologie, Hôpital de Rangueil, 1, avenue Jean Poulhès, TSA 50032, 31 059 TOULOUSE Cedex 9, France.

Abstract

Background.— Migraine sufferers experience premonitory symptoms which suggest that primary hypothalamic dysfunction is a likely trigger of the attacks. Neuroendocrine and laboratory data also support this hypothesis. To date, positron emission tomography (PET) scans of migraine sufferers have demonstrated activation of brainstem nuclei, but not of the hypothalamus.

Objective.— To record cerebral activations withH2 15OPET during spontaneous migraine without aura attacks.

Methods.— We scanned 7 patients with migraine without aura (6 females and 1 male) in each of 3 situations: within 4 hours of headache onset, after headache relief by sumatriptan injection (between the fourth and the sixth hour after headache onset), and during an attack-free period.

Results.— During the headache we found not only significant activations in the midbrain and pons, but also in the hypothalamus, all persisting after headache relief by sumatriptan.

Conclusion.— Hypothalamic activity, long suspected by clinical and experimental arguments as a possible trigger for migraine, is demonstrated for the first time during spontaneous attacks.

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