Exploration of NMDA receptors in migraine: therapeutic and theoretic implications.
Interuniversity Centre of Neurochemistry and Clinical Pharmacology of Idiopathic Headache, Florence University, Italy.
Pain intensity was observed before and after the subcutaneous (s.c.) administration of ketamine hydrochloride (80 micrograms/kg/s.c.) or saline (0.9% NaCl given by the same route) in 17 migraine (M) sufferers as an acute treatment of their M attacks. The same parameter was observed in another group of 17 M-sufferers complaining of very severe and frequent M attacks; these subjects were completely refractory to the prophylactic treatments currently used in M. In this second group, ketamine 80 micrograms/kg/s.c./three times a day) or saline was randomly assigned in a short (3-week) chronic treatment. A randomized, double-blind, cross-over study design was used both when testing ketamine as an acute administration for relieving M attack and when comparing its effect to that of the placebo in a chronic treatment for preventing M-pain. Ketamine, but not placebo, produced a marked relief of pain both as an acute treatment and as a prophylactic therapy. Mild specific side-effects were observed in the majority of the patients treated with ketamine. Moreover in the placebo group, the majority of these patients also complained of side-effects. The present results support the hypothesis that N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptors play an important role in the mechanisms of M.