Dynamic sodium imaging at ultra-high field reveals progression in a preclinical migraine model

Pain. 2018 Oct;159(10):2058-2065. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001307.


Under the hypothesis that increased extracellular sodium induces sustained neuronal excitability with the onset and progression of migraine, this study evaluates dynamic in vivo Na fluxes in the brain of a preclinical rodent analogue of migraine. Ultra-high field Na magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at 21.1 T has demonstrated potential to quantify sodium concentrations with good spatial and temporal resolution after the onset of central sensitization. Sprague-Dawley male rats with implanted intraperitoneal lines were studied by MRI before and after an in situ injection of 10 mg/kg of nitroglycerin (NTG) vs vehicle and saline controls. Slice-selective Na images were acquired using a multislice free induction decay-based chemical shift imaging sequence with resolution of 1.1 × 1.1 × 3 mm for a 9-minute acquisition. A total of 27 repeated scans were acquired over 1 hour of baseline scanning and longitudinally up to 3 hours after injection. Increases of Na MRI signal in the brainstem, extracerebral cerebrospinal fluid, and cisterna magna were evident almost immediately after NTG injection, gaining significance from controls in 36 minutes. The cerebellum and third ventricle also showed sustained trends of increased Na, with the former gaining significance at over 2 hours after NTG injection. The data provide evidence of an early change in sodium concentration, markedly in posterior fossa cerebrospinal fluid and brainstem regions. Further study of fluctuations of sodium concentration and their modulation with treatments could help understand the dynamic features of migraine, locate a putative migraine generator, and guide development of therapeutic measures to correct the disturbance of sodium homeostasis.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Progression
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / diagnostic imaging*
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy
  • Migraine Disorders / metabolism*
  • Nitroglycerin / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sodium / metabolism*
  • Vasodilator Agents / pharmacology


  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Sodium
  • Nitroglycerin