Serotonin (5-HT) is an important neurotransmitter involved in the control of neural and vascular responses. 5-HT depletion can induce several neurological disorders, including migraines. Studies on a cortical spreading depression (CSD) migraine animal model showed that the cortical neurons sensitivity, vascular responses, and nitric oxide (NO) production were significantly increased in 5-HT depletion. However, the involvement of NO in the cerebrovascular responses in 5-HT depletion remains unclear. This study aimed to investigate the role of NO in the CSD-induced alterations of cerebral microvessels in 5-HT depletion. Rats were divided into four groups: control, control with L-NAME treatment, 5-HT depleted, and 5-HT depleted with L-NAME treatment. 5-HT depletion was induced by intraperitoneal injection with para-chlorophenylalanine (PCPA) 3 days before the experiment. The CSD was triggered by KCl application. After the second wave of CSD, N-nitro-l-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) or saline was intravenously injected into the rats with or without L-NAME treatment groups, respectively. The intercellular adhesion molecules-1 (ICAM-1), cell adhesion molecules-1 (VCAM-1), and the ultrastructural changes of the cerebral microvessels were examined. The results showed that 5-HT depletion significantly increased ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 expressions in the cerebral cortex. The number of endothelial pinocytic vesicles and microvilli was higher in the 5-HT depleted group when compared to the control. Interestingly, L-NAME treatment significantly reduced the abnormalities observed in the 5-HT depleted group. The results of this study demonstrated that an increase of NO production is one of the mechanisms involved in the CSD-induced alterations of the cerebrovascular responses in 5-HT depletion.
Keywords: cortical spreading depression; endothelial cell; serotonin depletion; ultrastructural changes.