Meningeal norepinephrine produces headache behaviors in rats via actions both on dural afferents and fibroblasts

Cephalalgia. 2015 Oct;35(12):1054-64. doi: 10.1177/0333102414566861. Epub 2015 Jan 19.


Background: Stress is commonly reported to contribute to migraine although mechanisms by which this may occur are not fully known. The purpose of these studies was to examine whether norepinephrine (NE), the primary sympathetic efferent transmitter, acts on processes in the meninges that may contribute to the pain of migraine.

Methods: NE was applied to rat dura using a behavioral model of headache. Primary cultures of rat trigeminal ganglia retrogradely labeled from the dura mater and of rat dural fibroblasts were prepared. Patch-clamp electrophysiology, Western blot, and ELISA were performed to examine the effects of NE. Conditioned media from NE-treated fibroblast cultures was applied to the dura using the behavioral headache model.

Results: Dural injection both of NE and media from NE-stimulated fibroblasts caused cutaneous facial and hindpaw allodynia in awake rats. NE application to cultured dural afferents increased action potential firing in response to current injections. Application of NE to dural fibroblasts increased phosphorylation of ERK and caused the release of interleukin-6 (IL-6).

Conclusions: These data demonstrate that NE can contribute to pro-nociceptive signaling from the meninges via actions on dural afferents and dural fibroblasts. Together, these actions of NE may contribute to the headache phase of migraine.

Keywords: Migraine; dura mater; fibroblast; headache; norepinephrine; stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Dura Mater / metabolism*
  • Dura Mater / pathology*
  • Fibroblasts
  • Headache / metabolism*
  • Headache / pathology
  • Male
  • Meninges / metabolism
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Trigeminal Ganglion / metabolism*
  • Trigeminal Ganglion / pathology


  • Norepinephrine