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Papers: 30 Jan 2021 - 5 Feb 2021

Human Studies


2021 Jan 27

Brain Sci



Thalamocortical Connectivity in Experimentally-Induced Migraine Attacks: A Pilot Study.


Martinelli D, Castellazzi G, De Icco R, Bacila A, Allena M, Faggioli A, Sances G, Pichiecchio A, Borsook D, Gandini Wheeler-Kingshott CAM, Tassorelli C
Brain Sci. 2021 Jan 27; 11(2).
PMID: 33514029.


In this study we used nitroglycerin (NTG)-induced migraine attacks as a translational human disease model. Static and dynamic functional connectivity (FC) analyses were applied to study the associated functional brain changes. A spontaneous migraine-like attack was induced in five episodic migraine (EM) patients using a NTG challenge. Four task-free functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans were acquired over the study: baseline, prodromal, full-blown, and recovery. Seed-based correlation analysis (SCA) was applied to fMRI data to assess static FC changes between the thalamus and the rest of the brain. Wavelet coherence analysis (WCA) was applied to test time-varying phase-coherence changes between the thalamus and salience networks (SNs). SCA results showed significantly FC changes between the right thalamus and areas involved in the pain circuits (insula, pons, cerebellum) during the prodromal phase, reaching its maximal alteration during the full-blown phase. WCA showed instead a loss of synchronisation between thalami and SN, mainly occurring during the prodrome and full-blown phases. These findings further support the idea that a temporal change in thalamic function occurs over the experimentally induced phases of NTG-induced headache in migraine patients. Correlation of FC changes with true clinical phases in spontaneous migraine would validate the utility of this model.