Biochemistry of neuromodulation in primary headaches: focus on anomalies of tyrosine metabolism

Neurol Sci. 2007 May;28 Suppl 2:S94-6. doi: 10.1007/s10072-007-0758-4.


Recent studies have suggested that abnormalities of dopamine and trace amines (tyramine, octopamine, and synephrine), products of tyrosine metabolism, may constitute the metabolic events that predispose to the occurrence of cluster headache (CH) and migraine attacks. This hypothesis is supported by the following evidences: the discovery of trace amine associated receptors (TAARs), expressed on the olfactory epithelium, amigdala, hypothalamus, periacqueductal gray, and the biochemical anomalies of dopamine and trace amines. The possible effects of these biochemical abnormalities on TAARs and dopamine receptors, located in different areas of CNS, may explain the behaviour (restlessness, anxiety and, at times, hypersexuality) and the autonomic signs during the painful attacks of CH, and the premonitory symptoms of migraine crisis (thirst, craving, yawning, alteration of smell, depression etc.).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biogenic Amines / metabolism*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Headache Disorders, Primary / metabolism*
  • Headache Disorders, Primary / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Octopamine / metabolism
  • Receptors, Dopamine / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Synephrine / metabolism
  • Tyramine / metabolism
  • Tyrosine / metabolism*


  • Biogenic Amines
  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Octopamine
  • Tyrosine
  • Synephrine
  • Tyramine
  • Trace amine-associated receptor 1