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The Journal of Headache and Pain

Official Journal of the "European Headache Federation" and of "Lifting The Burden - The Global Campaign against Headache"

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Open Access

Role of dopaminergic system in migraine

  • Alessandra Cherchi1,
  • Erminia Stochino1,
  • Maria Paola Piccardi1 and
  • Maria Del Zompo1Email author
The Journal of Headache and PainOfficial Journal of the Italian Society for the Study of Headaches and the Italian Society of Pain Clinicians2:9


The theory that hypersensitivity of dopamine (DA) system is involved in the pathogenesis of migraine has been supported by various authors on the basis of clinical, pharmacological and, recently, genetic evidence. Apomorphine, a selective and specific DA agonist, has a cerebral vasodilatatory effect and increases blood flow significantly in the middle cerebral artery in migraineurs. Processes from central DA neurons terminate in close contact with penetrating arterioles and cerebral capillaries in the cerebral cortex. This finding reaffirms the role of central neurogenic mechanisms in the regulation of the cerebral circulation and, we believe, further supports the major role of dopamine in the neurogenic mechanisms of migraine. Various studies have been carried out to verify the involvement of DA in migraine pathogenesis using molecular genetics as a tool. A positive association between the “dopaminergic” phenotype of migraine without aura and the D2 receptor gene has been found. To explain dopaminergic hypersensitivity in migraine without aura, we will study the genes encoding proteins involved in the signal transduction system.

DopamineMigraine pathogenesisDopaminergic hypersensitivityGenetics



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