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Papers of the Week

Papers: 30 Jan 2021 - 5 Feb 2021

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development


2021 Jan 29


Selective targeting of peripheral cannabinoid receptors prevents behavioral symptoms and sensitization of trigeminal neurons in mouse models of migraine and medication overuse headache.



Migraine affects ∼15% of the world's population greatly diminishing their quality of life. Current preventative treatments are effective in only a subset of migraine patients, and while cannabinoids appear beneficial in alleviating migraine symptoms, central nervous system (CNS) side effects limit their widespread use. We developed peripherally-restricted cannabinoids (PRCBs) that relieve chronic pain symptoms of cancer and neuropathies, without appreciable CNS side effects or tolerance development. Here we determined PRCB effectiveness in alleviating hypersensitivity symptoms in mouse models of migraine and medication overuse headache (MOH). Chronic glyceryl trinitrate (GTN, 10 mg/kg) administration led to increased sensitivity to mechanical stimuli, and increased expression of phosphorylated protein kinase A (p-PKA), neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), and transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1) proteins in trigeminal ganglia. PRCB pretreatment, but not posttreatment, prevented behavioral and biochemical correlates of GTN-induced sensitization. Low pH- and allyl isothiocyanate-activated currents in acutely isolated trigeminal neurons were reversibly attenuated by PRCB application. Chronic GTN treatment significantly enhanced these currents. Chronic sumatriptan treatment also led to development of allodynia to mechanical and cold stimuli which was slowly reversible after sumatriptan discontinuation. Subsequent challenge with a previously ineffective low-dose GTN (0.1-0.3 mg/kg) revealed latent behavioral sensitization and increased expression of p-PKA, nNOS, and TRPA1 proteins in trigeminal ganglia. PRCB pretreatment prevented all behavioral and biochemical correlates of allodynia and latent sensitization. Importantly, chronic PRCB treatment alone did not produce any behavioral or biochemical signs of sensitization. These data validate peripheral cannabinoid receptors as potential therapeutic targets in migraine and MOH.