Pathophysiology of migraine

Annu Rev Physiol. 2013:75:365-91. doi: 10.1146/annurev-physiol-030212-183717. Epub 2012 Nov 26.


Migraine is a collection of perplexing neurological conditions in which the brain and its associated tissues have been implicated as major players during an attack. Once considered exclusively a disorder of blood vessels, compelling evidence has led to the realization that migraine represents a highly choreographed interaction between major inputs from both the peripheral and central nervous systems, with the trigeminovascular system and the cerebral cortex among the main players. Advances in in vivo and in vitro technologies have informed us about the significance to migraine of events such as cortical spreading depression and activation of the trigeminovascular system and its constituent neuropeptides, as well as about the importance of neuronal and glial ion channels and transporters that contribute to the putative cortical excitatory/inhibitory imbalance that renders migraineurs susceptible to an attack. This review focuses on emerging concepts that drive the science of migraine in both a mechanistic direction and a therapeutic direction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide / physiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Nociceptors / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Vasodilation / physiology


  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide