Current Pain and Headache Reports

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 108–117 | Cite as

Serotonergic Agents in the Management of Cluster Headache



Cluster headache is a highly disabling primary headache disorder, characterized by unilateral headache attacks occurring in association with cranial autonomic symptoms. Serotonergic agents, such as the ergot alkaloids, have traditionally been used for the acute and preventive treatment of cluster headache and other primary headaches. Although it initially was thought that their efficacy was due solely to the vasoconstriction of extracranial cerebral vessels, new mechanisms of action of these drugs have been ascertained as a consequence of advances in elucidation of the pathogenesis of primary headaches and the development of triptans. This article reviews the current knowledge about serotonergic agonists and antagonists used in the management of cluster headache, focusing on their mechanisms of action and on the possible role of serotonin system dysfunction in this complex disorder.


Cluster headache Serotonin 5-HT Receptors Sumatriptan Zolmitriptan Ergotamine DHE Methysergide Lithium Pizotifen Lysergic acid 



G. Lambru: none. Dr. Manjit Matharu serves on the advisory board for Allergan, and has received payment for the development of educational presentations from Allergan and Medtronic.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Headache Group, Institute of Neurology and The National Hospital for Neurology and NeurosurgeryQueen SquareUK

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