Triptans: over the migraine
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Migraine is a chronic, recurrent, disabling condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Proper acute care treatment for migraineurs is based on triptans, a class of specific medications approved over 20 years ago. Triptans are serotonin (5-HT1B/1D) receptor agonists that are generally effective, well tolerated and safe. Seven triptans are available worldwide, although not all are available in every country, with multiple routes of administration, giving to doctors and patients a wide choice. Despite the similarities of the available triptans, pharmacological heterogeneity offers slightly different efficacy profiles. Triptans are not pain medications, they are abortive migraine medications which cannot prevent migraines. In addition to migraine attacks, triptans are also helpful for cluster headaches. If they are useful in other primary headaches rather than migraine and cluster headache it is yet to be addressed. In the literature there are only limited controlled clinical data to support a migraine-selective activity for triptans. Reports are available about efficacy of triptans to stop attacks of other types of primary headache, such as tension type headache, hypnic headache and other rare forms of primary headaches. On the other hand, sumatriptan failed to treat the indomethacin-responsive primary headache disorders like chronic paroxysmal hemicrania and hemicrania continua, nor was it effective in the myofascial temporal muscle pain or in atypical facial pain. Why triptans are effective in so different types of primary headaches remain unclear. Up to date, it is not clear whether the antimigrainous activity of the triptans involves an action only in the periphery or in the CNS as well. Probably we should consider triptans as “pain killers” and not only as “migraine killers”. We clearly need additional studies on triptans as putative analgesics in well-accepted animal and clinical models of acute and chronic somatic pain.
KeywordsTriptans Migraine Primary headache Pain
Conflict of interest
The authors certify that there is no actual or potential conflict of interest in relation to this article.
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