Electrophysiological properties of dural afferents in the absence and presence of inflammatory mediators

J Neurophysiol. 2009 Jun;101(6):3126-34. doi: 10.1152/jn.91339.2008. Epub 2009 Apr 1.


Migraine is a debilitating condition characterized by recurrent severe head pain. Although mechanisms underlying a migraine attack remain controversial, one proposal is that inflammatory mediator (IM)-induced activation and sensitization of dural afferents contribute to the initiation of migraine pain. We and others have shown that the electrophysiological properties of afferents, both in the absence and the presence of IM, vary as a function of target of innervation. These differences may account for unique aspects of pain syndromes associated with specific body regions. Therefore the purpose of the present study was to test the hypothesis that the electrophysiological properties of dural afferents differ from those innervating the temporalis muscle (TM), a structure in close proximity to the dura but that is not associated with pain syndromes at all similar to migraine. Acutely dissociated retrograde labeled primary afferents innervating the dura and TM were examined with whole cell current-clamp recordings. Passive and active electrophysiological properties were determined before and after the application of IM: (in muM) prostaglandin E(2) (1), bradykinin (10), and histamine (1). In the absence of IM, there were significant differences between the two populations, particularly with respect to the response to suprathreshold stimulation where dural afferents were more excitable than TM afferents. Importantly, although both populations of afferents were sensitized by IM, the pattern of passive and active electrophysiological changes associated with IM-induced sensitization of these two populations of afferents suggested that there were both similarities and marked differences between the two with respect to underlying mechanisms of sensitization. If the differences between dural and TM afferents are due to a differential pattern of ion channel expression rather than differences in the relative density/biophysical properties of the same ion channels, it may be possible to selectively treat migraine pain by targeting the distinct mechanisms underlying IM-induced sensitization of dural afferents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects*
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biophysics
  • Bradykinin / pharmacology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dinoprostone / pharmacology
  • Dura Mater / drug effects
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Female
  • Histamine / pharmacology
  • Inflammation Mediators / pharmacology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / drug effects*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques / methods
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Temporal Muscle / drug effects
  • Temporal Muscle / innervation
  • Trigeminal Ganglion / cytology


  • Amino Acids
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • dolaisoleucine
  • Histamine
  • Dinoprostone
  • Bradykinin