Targeted Pituitary Adenylate Cyclase-Activating Peptide Therapies for Migraine

Neurotherapeutics. 2018 Apr;15(2):371-376. doi: 10.1007/s13311-017-0596-x.


Here, we review the role of pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating peptide-38 (PACAP38) in migraine pathophysiology and data implicating PAC1 receptor as a future drug target in migraine. Much remains to be fully elucidated about migraine pathophysiology, but recent attention has focused on signaling molecule PACAP38, a vasodilator able to induce migraine attacks in patients who experience migraine without aura. PACAP38, with marked and sustained effect, dilates extracerebral arteries but not the middle cerebral artery. The selective affinity of PACAP38 to the PAC1 receptor makes this receptor a highly interesting and potential novel target for migraine treatment. Efficacy of antagonism of this receptor should be investigated in randomized clinical trials.

Keywords: Human provocation models; Migraine; PAC1 receptor; PACAP38; Primary headaches; Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Migraine Disorders / metabolism
  • Pituitary Adenylate Cyclase-Activating Polypeptide / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Pituitary Adenylate Cyclase-Activating Polypeptide, Type I / metabolism*


  • Pituitary Adenylate Cyclase-Activating Polypeptide
  • Receptors, Pituitary Adenylate Cyclase-Activating Polypeptide, Type I