Opening of BKCa channels causes migraine attacks: a new downstream target for the treatment of migraine

Mohammad Al-Mahdi Al-Karagholi, Hashmat Ghanizada, Cherie Amalie Waldorff Nielsen, Camilla Skandarioon, Josefin Snellman, Cristina Lopez-Lopez, Jakob Møller Hansen, Messoud Ashina


Migraine is a common and frequently disabling neurological disorder, but the initiating migraine mechanisms are still poorly understood. Potassium channel opening may cause migraine, and we therefore examined the migraine-inducing effect of MaxiPost, a large (big)-conductance calcium-activated potassium (BKCa) channel opener, on migraine induction and cephalic vasodilation in individuals with migraine. Twenty-six patients with migraine without aura were randomly allocated to receive an infusion of MaxiPost or placebo on 2 study days separated by at least 1 week. The primary endpoint was the difference in incidence of migraine attacks after MaxiPost compared with placebo. The secondary endpoints were the difference in incidence of headaches and the difference in area under the curve for headache intensity scores (0-12 hours), for middle cerebral artery blood flow velocity (VMCA) (0-2 hours), and for superficial temporal artery and radial artery diameter. Twenty-two patients completed the study. Twenty-one of 22 (95%) developed migraine attacks after MaxiPost compared with none after placebo (P < 0.0001); the difference of incidence is 95% (95% confidence interval 86%-100%). The incidence of headache over the 12-hour observation period was higher after MaxiPost day (n = 22) than after placebo (n = 7) (P < 0.0001). We found a significant increase of VMCA and superficial temporal and radial arteries' diameter. Because BKCa channel opening initiates migraine attacks, we suggest that BKCa channel blockers could be potential candidates for novel antimigraine drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)2512-2520
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Headache
  • Humans
  • Middle Cerebral Artery
  • Migraine Disorders/drug therapy
  • BMS-204352
  • Migraine
  • Large (big)-conductance calcium-activated potassium channel
  • Human models
  • MaxiPost


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