Migraine is a highly prevalent headache disorder especially in women. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its receptor tropomyosin receptor kinases (TrkB), as well as extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and its downstream target c-AMP-responsive element binding protein (CREB) are strongly associated with the transmission of nociceptive information. However, the involvement of these substances in migraine has rarely been examined. In the present study, intraperitoneal injection of nitroglycerin (NTC) successfully induced rat migraine attack, as evidenced by the behavioral testing. The location and abundance of these substances in the migraine model were determined by Immunohistochemistry, Real-time polymerase chain reaction, Western blot and Enzyme-linked immunosorbant assays. Results showed that BDNF, TrkB, phosphor(p)-ERK and p-CREB were up-regulated in the brain neurons of both male and female rats with NTG-induced migraine compared to non-migraine control, whereas their expression levels were decreased in headache-free intervals of the migraine compared to migraine attacks. Estrogen is an important contributor to migraine. Female rats with ovariectomy showed significant reduction in the expression of BDNF, TrkB, p-CREB and p-ERK in both attacks and intervals of NTG-induced migraine, relative to rats that have their ovaries. But, intraperitoneal administration of exogenous estrogen recovered their expression in ovariectomized rats. Collectively, this study unveiled positive correlation of BDNF/TrkB and ERK/CREB axes in NTG-induced migraine and promoting effects of estrogen on their signals in the migraine. These findings contribute to further understanding the pathogenesis of migraine in the molecular basis.
- Received August 1, 2016.
- Accepted November 9, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd
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