, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp 267-276,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 31 Jul 2008

Serotonin and migraine: a reconsideration of the central theory

Abstract

The 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) has been implicated in migraine pathophysiology for the past 50 years. A low central 5-HT disposition associated with an increase in 5-HT release during attack is the most convincing change of 5-HT metabolism implicated in migraine. Peripheral studies on plasma/platelet have not generally shown low 5-HT levels. Studies on 5-HT reactivity showed hypersensitivity, also expressed as reduced tachyphylaxis (habituation), which successively was evidenced as the most characteristic marker of an altered sensory neurotransmission. Even the gender and seasonal variations of 5-HT parameters seem to agree with a low 5-HT turnover with receptoral hypersensitivity. The interpretation of the effects of some serotonergic drugs and recent neuroimaging studies give major evidence for this cascade of events. Although the exact mechanism that links abnormal 5-HT neurotransmission to the manifestation of head pain has yet to be fully understood, a deficit on 5-HT descending pain inhibitory system is still probably today the most implicated in migraine pathophysiology. This short review focuses and discusses the alteration of peripheral and central 5-HT parameters in migraine patients.