Migraine pain associated with middle cerebral artery dilatation: reversal by sumatriptan

L Friberg, J Olesen, H K Iversen, B Sperling

339 Citations (Scopus)


The combination of measurements of regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) and blood velocity in the middle cerebral arteries (MCA) by transcranial doppler sonography was used to investigate cerebrovascular involvement in migraine. Ten migraine patients with unilateral headache were studied during an attack and when they had been free of attacks for 5 days (non-attack). On both occasions they were given as intravenous infusion of sumatriptan (2 mg), a 5-HT1-like receptor agonist, which relieved the symptoms within 30 min without affecting rCBF. The MCA velocity was normal on both sides on the non-attack day and on the unaffected side during the attack. However, during the attack the MCA velocity on the headache side was significantly lower than that on the non-headache side (45 vs 61 cm/s:mean difference 16.3 [95% confidence interval 10.3-22.3]; p = 0.02). The MCA velocity on the headache side returned to normal after treatment with sumatriptan and recovery. Since rCBF in the MCA supply territory was unaffected, the lower velocity can be explained only by dilatation of the MCA. The mean MCA diameter increase was estimated to be 20%. Thus, headache was associated with intracranial large arterial dilatation on the headache side. Sumatriptan predominantly had effects on the distended artery, which suggests that the 5-HT receptor system has a role in the pathogenesis of migraine.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number8758
Pages (from-to)13-7
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 1991


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Cerebral Arteries
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation
  • Dilatation, Pathologic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indoles
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders
  • Sulfonamides
  • Sumatriptan
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents


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