Astrocyte enzyme is key to finding a better migraine drug
Article: Genetic mutation linked with typical form of migraine headache
Research done by: The University of California, San Fransisco
Published May 1, 2013
For the article click here.
Migraines have shown to be more prevalent in women, but men can suffer from them as well. They can start with an aura symptom that will prevail what is about to come next: an intense long-lasting head ache. Scientists at the University of California analyzed two different families in which migraines were prevalent. Those in the family who suffered from migraines were shown to have a mutation or were the offspring of a mutation carrier. The mutation was found to effect production of casein kinase 1 delta enzyme. This enzyme helps carry out functions in the brain.
Scientists then tested mice with the same mutation as well as unaffected mice. Although they could't measure headache intensity in a mouse, they tested pain threshold by inducing the mice with nitroglycerin. The mutant mice had a lower threshold for the nitroglycerin in comparison to the normal mice. Scientists noted that when CDS (an electrical stimulation wave) was induced on the mice, the mutated mice had a lower electrical threshold. CDS spreads throughout the brain at a rate of 3 millimeters per minute. With the help of brain images, scientists were able to show that changes in blood flow spread at the same rate in humans with migraine aura. Also noted, mutant mice showed an increase in calcium signaling while normal mice showed signaling of astrocytes (brain cells essential to neuron function).
Suffering from migraine, this research is exciting because it opens up new ideas to create better drugs that can alleviate migraine. There are drugs out on the market currently, but they do not work for everyone nor all the time. With continued research on the astrocyte enzyme, migraines may be better understood.