Calcitonin gene-related peptide triggers migraine-like attacks in patients with migraine with aura

Cephalalgia. 2010 Oct;30(10):1179-86. doi: 10.1177/0333102410368444. Epub 2010 May 12.


Introduction: Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) is a key molecule in migraine pathogenesis. Intravenous CGRP infusion triggers delayed migraine-like attacks in patients with migraine without aura (MO). In contrast to patients with MO, in prior studies patients with familial hemiplegic migraine (FHM) did not report more migraine-like attacks compared to controls. Whether CGRP triggers migraine in patients with typical (non-hemiplegic) migraine with aura is (MA) unknown. In the present study we examined the migraine inducing effect of CGRP infusion in patients suffering from MA and healthy controls.

Methods: Fourteen patients suffering exclusively from migraine with typical aura (MA) and 11 healthy volunteers received a continuous intravenous infusion of 1.5 µg/min CGRP over 20 minutes. Headache and other migraine symptoms were scored every 10 minutes for one hour and self recorded hourly thereafter and until 13 hours post-infusion.

Results: CGRP infusion induced significantly more delayed headaches in MA patients (12 out of 14) than in controls (2 out of 11) (p = 0.001). Furthermore, significantly more MA patients (57%; 8 out of 14) fulfilled criteria for an experimentally induced migraine attack after CGRP than controls (0%; 0 out of 11) (P = 0.003). Four patients (28%) reported aura symptoms after CGRP infusion.

Conclusion: CGRP triggered migraine-like attacks without aura in patients suffering exclusively from MA. It also triggered a typical aura in 28% of the patients. These data indicate similar neurobiological pathways responsible for triggering migraine headache in MA and MO patients, and suggest differences between MA/MO and FHM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Area Under Curve
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide / adverse effects
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine with Aura / chemically induced*
  • Migraine with Aura / physiopathology*


  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide