Chaos and commotion in the wake of cortical spreading depression and spreading depolarizations

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2014 Jun;15(6):379-93. doi: 10.1038/nrn3770.


Punctuated episodes of spreading depolarizations erupt in the brain, encumbering tissue structure and function, and raising fascinating unanswered questions concerning their initiation and propagation. Linked to migraine aura and headache, cortical spreading depression contributes to the morbidity in the world's migraine with aura population. Even more ominously, erupting spreading depolarizations accelerate tissue damage during brain injury. The once-held view that spreading depolarizations may not exist in the human brain has changed, largely because of the discovery of migraine genes that confer cortical spreading depression susceptibility, the application of sophisticated imaging tools and efforts to interrogate their impact in the acutely injured human brain.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Injuries / pathology
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Cortical Spreading Depression / genetics
  • Cortical Spreading Depression / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / pathology
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology*