The link between glutamate and migraine

CNS Spectr. 2003 Jun;8(6):446-9. doi: 10.1017/s1092852900018757.


Migraine pain-relay centers, including the trigeminal ganglion, trigeminal nucleus caudalis, and thalamus, contain glutamate-positive neurons, and glutamate activates the trigeminal nucleus caudalis. Glutamate is implicated in cortical spreading depression, trigeminovascular activation, and central sensitization. Glutamate receptor-subtype antagonists are effective in preclinical models of migraine, and in the clinic. These preclinical and clinical observations argue for a strong link between migraine and the glutamatergic system, a link that is important to further characterize in an effort to better understand migraine mechanisms and deliver effective therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Glutamic Acid / adverse effects*
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy
  • Migraine Disorders / metabolism
  • Sumatriptan / therapeutic use
  • Trigeminal Ganglion / metabolism
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / therapeutic use


  • Vasoconstrictor Agents
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Sumatriptan