Background Sensitization and impaired habituation of cortical neurons have been reported in migraineurs. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) may change these phenomena and be the basis of therapeutic response. We report the effect of 10 Hz rTMS on sensitization and habituation of median somatosensory evoked potential (SEP) in migraineurs, and correlate these changes with clinical response. Methods Migraineurs having four or more episodes of headache per month were included and their clinical details were noted. Three sessions of 10 Hz rTMS, 600 pulses in 412.4 seconds were delivered on the left frontal cortex corresponding to the hot spot of right abductor digiti minimi, on alternate days. Median SEP was done before and 30 minutes after the third rTMS session. Sensitization (block I N20 amplitude) and impaired habituation (if N20 amplitude of block 2 or 3 were not suppressed compared to block I) were noted. The reduction in frequency and severity of headache in the next month were noted and correlated with SEP changes. Results Ninety-four migraineurs were included; 56 received true rTMS and 38 sham stimulation. Following stimulation, reduction in N20 amplitude of block 1 correlated with a reduction in frequency and severity of headache at one month. The impaired habituation significantly improved in the true rTMS group compared to sham stimulation, and correlated with a reduction in the severity of headache but not with frequency. Conclusion In migraineurs, 10 Hz rTMS improves habituation and may be the biological basis of headache relief.
Keywords: Migraine; SEP; evoked potential; habituation; sensitization; transcranial magnetic stimulation.