Neurological mechanisms of migraine: potential of the gap-junction modulator tonabersat in prevention of migraine.Cephalalgia 2009; 29 Suppl 2:1-6C
Migraine is a neurovascular disorder characterized by recurrent episodic headaches, and is caused by abnormal processing of sensory information due to peripheral and/or central sensitization. The exact pathophysiological mechanism underlying migraine is not fully understood; however, cortical spreading depression (CSD) is thought to provide the basis for migraine aura and may serve as a trigger of migraine pain. CSD depends on neuronal-glial cell communication, which is mediated by intercellular transfer of messengers through connexin-containing gap junctions, as well as messengers released into the extracellular space by non-junctional connexin-containing hemichannels. These processes are believed to be important in peripheral sensitization within the trigeminal ganglion and to lead to central sensitization. The novel benzopyran compound tonabersat binds selectively to a unique site in the brain. In preclinical studies, tonabersat markedly reduced CSD and CSD-associated events and inhibited gap-junction communication between neurons and satellite glial cells in the trigeminal ganglion. Together, these findings suggest that tonabersat should have clinical application in preventing migraine attacks.