Nebivolol and metoprolol for treating migraine: an advance on beta-blocker treatment?

Headache. 2008 Jan;48(1):118-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2007.00785.x.


Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of oral treatment with nebivolol and metoprolol in the prophylaxis of migraine attacks.

Background: Beta-blockers such as propranolol and metoprolol are known to be effective in preventing migraine attacks. Following earlier observations of successful use of nebivolol in a few hypertensive patients with concomitant migraine, we conducted a prospective study to ascertain whether nebivolol would be effective and better tolerated, in a methodologically strict, randomized and double-blind setting.

Design and methods: Randomized, double-blind study in 30 patients with confirmed migraine diagnosis, a minimum 1-year history, onset prior to 50 years of age, written records of attacks for the previous 3 months, and minimum 2 attacks per month. Primary endpoint was frequency of attacks (prevention of migraine attacks) in the final 4 weeks of a 14-week treatment on full dose of metoprolol and nebivolol. Secondary endpoints were time to therapeutic effect, duration of attacks, intensity of headache, consumption of analgesics, evaluation of accompanying symptoms, migraine disability assessment, clinical global impression, quality of life, and responder rates. The statistical analysis was prospectively planned and conducted for all randomized patients.

Results: Both metoprolol and nebivolol where similarly effective regarding the main endpoint (prevention of migraine attacks) as well as the secondary ones, and both had a fast onset of action, typically within 4 weeks from starting therapy, with responder rates increasing relatively little over time after the first 4 weeks. Use of acute pain medication decreased on both drugs, as well as accompanying symptoms. Both patients' and physicians' evaluations of disability and disease status were similarly favorable to the 2 treatments. Regarding safety, nebivolol was considerably better tolerated than metoprolol in terms of all reported events, treatment-related events, and event severity.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that nebivolol is as effective as metoprolol in the prophylaxis of migraine attacks, with the advantages of being better tolerated and not requiring up-titration to achieve therapeutic levels. Further and larger trials should be conducted on nebivolol in the prevention of migraine attacks as it may provide an improvement in current migraine prophylaxis with beta-blockers.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Benzopyrans / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Ethanolamines / therapeutic use*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metoprolol / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Migraine Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Nebivolol
  • Pain Measurement
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Benzopyrans
  • Ethanolamines
  • Nebivolol
  • Metoprolol