Systemic administration of nitroglycerin, a nitric oxide donor, triggers in migraineurs a delayed attack of unknown mechanisms. Subcutaneous nitroglycerin (10 mg/kg) produced a significant increase of nitric oxide synthase (NOS)- and c-fos-immunoreactive neurons in the cervical part of trigeminal nucleus caudalis in rats after 4 h. This effect was not observed in the thoracic dorsal horn. Similar increase of NOS and c-fos was obtained in the brain stem after a somatic nociceptive stimulus, i.e. on the side of the formalin injection in the lip. Nitric oxide is thus able to increase NOS availability in second order nociceptive trigeminal neurons, which may be relevant for central sensitization and the understanding of its effect in migraine. (C) 2000 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
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