Functional immunohistochemistry of neuropeptides and nitric oxide synthase in the nerve fibers of the supratentorial dura mater in an experimental migraine model

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The supratentorial cerebral dura of the albino rat is equipped with a rich sensory innervation both in the connective tissue and around blood vessels, which includes nociceptive axons and their terminals; these display intense calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) immunoreactivity. Stereotactic electrical stimulation of the trigeminal (Gasserian) ganglion, regarded as an experimental migraine model, caused marked increase and disintegration of club-like perivascular CGRP-immunopositive nerve endings in the dura mater and induced an apparent increase in the lengths of CGRP-immunoreactive axons. Intravenous administration of sumatriptan or eletriptan, prior to electrical stimulation, prevented disintegration of perivascular terminals and induced accumulation of CGRP in terminal and preterminal portions of peripheral sensory axons. Consequently, immunopositive terminals and varicosities increased in size; accumulation of axoplasmic organelles resulted in the "hollow" appearence of numerous varicosities. Since triptans exert their anti-migraine effect by virtue of agonist action on 5-HT1D/B receptors, we suggest that these drugs prevent the release of CGRP from perivascular nerve terminals in the dura mater by an action at 5-HT1D/B receptors. Nitroglycerine (NitroPOHL), given subcutaneously to rats, induces increased beading of nitric oxide synthase (NOS)-immunoreactive nerve fibers in the supratentorial cerebral dura mater, and an apparent increase in the number of NOS-immunoreactive nerve fibers in the dural areas supplied by the anterior and middle meningeal arteries, and the sinus sagittalis superior. Structural alterations of nitroxidergic axons innervating blood vessels of the dura mater support the idea that nitric oxide (NO) is involved in the induction of headache, a well-known side effect of coronary dilator agents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-211
Number of pages19
JournalMicroscopy Research and Technique
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2001



  • CGRP
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Gasserian ganglion
  • Headache
  • Immunocytochemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Instrumentation
  • Medical Laboratory Technology

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