Pharmacological targeting of spreading depression in migraine

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Migraine, particularly with aura, is a genetically heterogeneous disorder of ion channels, pumps or transporters associated with increased cortical excitability. Spreading depression, as one reflection of hyperexcitability, is the electrophysiological event underlying aura symptoms and a trigger for headache. Endogenous (e.g., genes and hormones) and exogenous factors (e.g., drugs) modulating migraine susceptibility have also been shown to modulate spreading depression susceptibility concordantly, suggesting that spreading depression can be a relevant therapeutic target in migraine. In support of this, several migraine prophylactic drugs used in clinical practice have been shown to suppress spreading depression susceptibility as a probable mechanism of action, despite belonging to widely different pharmacological classes. Hence, susceptibility to spreading depression can be a useful preclinical model with good positive and negative predictive value for drug screening.

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