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Papers of the Week

Papers: 22 Jul 2023 - 28 Jul 2023

Basic Science

Animal Studies, Neurobiology, Neuroimaging


2023 Jul 24

J Neurosci


Meningeal P2X7 signaling mediates migraine-related intracranial mechanical hypersensitivity.


Zhao J, Harrison S, Levy D


Cortical spreading depolarization (CSD) is a key pathophysiological event that underlies visual and sensory auras in migraine. CSD is also thought to drive the headache phase in migraine by promoting the activation and mechanical sensitization of trigeminal primary afferent nociceptive neurons that innervate the cranial meninges. The factors underlying meningeal nociception in the wake of CSD remain poorly understood but potentially involve the parenchymal release of algesic mediators and damage-associated molecular patterns, particularly ATP. Here, we explored the role of ATP-P2X purinergic receptor signaling in mediating CSD-evoked meningeal afferent activation and mechanical sensitization. Male rats were subjected to a single CSD episode. In vivo, extracellular single-unit recording was used to measure meningeal afferent ongoing activity changes. Quantitative mechanical stimuli using a servomotor force-controlled stimulator assessed changes in the afferent’s mechanosensitivity. Manipulation of meningeal P2X receptors was achieved via local administration of pharmacological agents. Broad-spectrum P2X receptor inhibition, selective blockade of the P2X7 receptor, and its related pannexin 1 channel suppressed CSD-evoked afferent mechanical sensitization but did not affect the accompanying afferent activation response. Surprisingly, inhibition of the pronociceptive P2X2/3 receptor did not affect the activation or sensitization of meningeal afferents post-CSD. P2X7 signaling underlying afferent mechanosensitization was localized to the meninges and did not affect CSD susceptibility. We propose that meningeal P2X7 and Pannexin 1 signaling, potentially in meningeal macrophages or neutrophils, mediates the mechanical sensitization of meningeal afferents, which contributes to migraine pain by exacerbating the headache during normally innocuous physical activities.Activation and sensitization of meningeal afferents play a key role in migraine headache, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Here, using a rat model of migraine with aura involving cortical spreading depolarization (CSD), we demonstrate that meningeal purinergic P2X7 signaling and its related Pannexin 1 pore, but not nociceptive P2X2/3 receptors, mediate prolonged meningeal afferent sensitization. Additionally, we show that meningeal P2X signaling does not contribute to the increased afferent ongoing activity in the wake of CSD. Our finding points to meningeal P2X7 signaling as a critical mechanism underlying meningeal nociception in migraine, the presence of distinct mechanisms underlying the activation and sensitization of meningeal afferents in migraine, and highlight the need to target both processes for effective migraine therapy.