, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 159-166,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 14 Jan 2012

Effect of CGRP and sumatriptan on the BOLD response in visual cortex


To test the hypothesis that calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) modulates brain activity, we investigated the effect of intravenous CGRP on brain activity in response to a visual stimulus. In addition, we examined if possible alteration in brain activity was reversed by the anti-migraine drug sumatriptan. Eighteen healthy volunteers were randomly allocated to receive CGRP infusion (1.5 μg/min for 20 min) or placebo. In vivo activity in the visual cortex was recorded before, during and after infusion and after 6 mg subcutaneous sumatriptan by functional magnetic resonance imaging (3 T). 77% of the participants reported headache after CGRP. We found no changes in brain activity after CGRP (P = 0.12) or after placebo (P = 0.41). Sumatriptan did not affect brain activity after CGRP (P = 0.71) or after placebo (P = 0.98). Systemic CGRP or sumatriptan has no direct effects on the BOLD activity in visual cortex. This suggests that in healthy volunteers both CGRP and sumatriptan may exert their actions outside of the blood–brain barrier.