Cerebrospinal fluid GABA levels in chronic migraine with and without depression

Brain Res. 2006 May 23;1090(1):197-201. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2006.03.051. Epub 2006 Apr 25.


Psychiatric comorbidity is one of the key elements in chronic migraine (CM) management. Depression is particularly common in these patients, occurring in up to 85%. Preclinical studies have suggested that gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels may be decreased in animal models of depression. Also, clinical studies have reported low level in mood disorder patients for both plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) GABA. We hypothesized that low GABA levels in the brain might be related to the depression associated with CM. We studied 14 chronic migraine patients, with or without depression, compared to age-and sex-matched controls. CSF GABA levels were measured by HPLC. CSF GABA levels showed significant lower levels in depressed patients than those without depression. No difference was found when comparing patients versus controls. A GABA deficiency may be the underlying mechanism of depression in CM. Hence, preventive therapies modulating GABA neurotransmission could be used in CM associated with depression.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Chronic Disease
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Depressive Disorder / physiopathology
  • Female
  • GABA Agonists / pharmacology
  • GABA Agonists / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology
  • Migraine Disorders / psychology
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / analysis
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / deficiency*


  • GABA Agonists
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid