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Opening of ATP sensitive potassium channels causes migraine attacks with aura

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Migraine afflicts more than one billion individuals worldwide and is a leading cause of years lived with disability. In about a third of individuals with migraine aura occur in relation to migraine headache. The common pathophysiological mechanisms underlying migraine headache and migraine aura are yet to be identified. Based on recent data, we hypothesized that levcromakalim, an ATP-sensitive potassium channel opener, would trigger migraine attacks with aura in patients. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, 17 patients aged 21-59 years and diagnosed with migraine with aura exclusively were randomly allocated to receive an infusion of 0.05 mg/min levcromakalim or placebo (isotonic saline) on two different days (ClinicalTrials.gov, ID: NCT04012047). The primary end points were the difference in incidence of migraine attacks with or without aura, headache and the difference in the area under the curve for headache intensity scores (0-12 h). Seventeen patients completed the study. Fourteen of 17 (82%) patients developed migraine attacks with and without aura after levcromakalim compared with 1 of 17 (6%) after placebo (P < 0.001). Ten patients (59%) developed migraine with aura after levcromakalim compared with none after placebo (P = 0.002). One additional patient reported 'possible' aura, only partially fulfilling the criteria. Levcromakalim is likely a novel migraine aura-inducing substance in humans. These findings highlight the ATP-sensitive potassium channel as a shared target in migraine aura and migraine headache. Likely, ATP-sensitive potassium channel opening leads to triggering of aura and headache, respectively, via distinct mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain
Volume144
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)2322-2332
Number of pages11
ISSN0006-8950
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sep 2021

ID: 65608543