From Harvard Medical School, Harvard Neuroendocrine Unit, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA.
Neuroactive Properties of Reproductive Steroids
Article first published online: 7 SEP 2007
Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain
Volume 47, Issue Supplement s2, pages S68–S78, September 2007
How to Cite
Herzog, A. G. (2007), Neuroactive Properties of Reproductive Steroids. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 47: S68–S78. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2007.00817.x
- Issue published online: 7 SEP 2007
- Article first published online: 7 SEP 2007
Migraine is 3 times more common in postpubertal women than in men. Migraine is frequently exacerbated perimenstrually and commonly occurs exclusively at that time. It is often benefited by pregnancy and menopause. Estrogen withdrawal has been implicated as a mechanism for triggering migraines. The mechanism, however, is not well understood. Reproductive steroids have neuroactive properties that can modulate neuronal morphology and physiology. Increasing evidence suggests that circulating reproductive steroid levels regulate the balance of neuroexcitatory and neuroinhibitory activities in some brain regions by influencing synaptic plasticity. Estrogen has neuroexcitatory, whereas progesterone has neuroinhibitory, effects in most preclinical and clinical models. Several neurotransmitter systems that are implicated in migraine vary with reproductive steroid levels during the reproductive cycle. Estrogen stabilization may provide effective treatment in susceptible women, especially for catamenially exacerbated migraine.