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Prostacyclin (epoprostenol) induces headache in healthy subjects.

Author(s): Wienecke T, Olesen J, Oturai PS, Ashina M

Affiliation(s): Danish Headache Center and Department of Neurology, Glostrup Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Nordre Ringvej 57, DK-2600 Glostrup, Copenhagen, Denmark. trowie01@glo.regionh.dk

Publication date & source: 2008-09-30, Pain., 139(1):106-16. Epub 2008 May 2.

Publication type: Comparative Study; Randomized Controlled Trial; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

The role of prostanoids in nociception is well established. The headache eliciting effects of prostacyclin (prostaglandin I(2), (PGI(2))) and its possible mechanisms had previously not been systematically studied in man. We hypothesized that infusion of PGI(2) might induce headache and vasodilatation of cranial vessels. A stable analog of PGI(2) epoprostenol (10 ng/kg/min) was infused for 25 min into 12 healthy subjects in a cross-over, double-blind study. Headache intensity was scored on a verbal rating scale from 0 to 10. In addition, we recorded mean flow in the middle cerebral artery (V(mean MCA)) by the transcranial doppler and diameter of the superficial temporal artery (STA) by a high-resolution ultrasonography unit. During the immediate phase (0-30 min) and the post-infusion phase (30-90 min), 11 subjects reported headache on the PGI(2) day and no subjects reported headache on the placebo day (p=0.002). During epoprostenol (0-30 min) and in the post-infusion phase (30-90 min), the area under the curve (AUC) for headache score was significantly larger than during and after placebo (p=0.005). PGI(2) caused headache associated with the dilatation of STA (AUC, p<0.001), but no significant dilatation of the MCA (AUC, p=0.508). These data indicate that PGI(2) induced headache might be due to activation and sensitization of sensory afferents around extracranial arteries.

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