Pulsating pain on one side of the head is a classic manifestation of migraine. But sufferers may also experience nausea, vomiting and light-sensitivity, with little option but to lie in a dark room and take pain-killers. Approximately 15 percent of the world’s population suffers migraines at some point, but for many it’s a recurring, life-interrupting affliction. To better understand migraine biology, scientists induce them artificially – for example, by infusion of nitroglycerine – and then examine the resulting physiology. This method has been shown, in both people and rodents, to increase blood levels of a protein involved in pain transmission called CGRP. And scientists have also discovered in rats that a component of this protein’s receptor (red) is increased in a part of the brain called the trigeminal ganglion (pictured). Given that blood levels of CGRP also increase in people suffering spontaneous migraines, the nitroglycerine-induction approach appears to be an accurate model.
Written by Ruth Williams
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.