What is the role of oligemia in the pathogenesis of migraine headache?

Updated: Oct 21, 2019
  • Author: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
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Positron emission tomography (PET) scanning demonstrates that blood flow is moderately reduced during a migrainous aura, but the spreading oligemia does not correspond to vascular territories. The oligemia itself is insufficient to impair function. Instead, the flow is reduced because the spreading depression reduces metabolism.

Although CSD is the disturbance that presumably results in the clinical manifestation of migraine aura, this spreading oligemia can be clinically silent (ie, migraine without aura). Perhaps a certain threshold is required to produce symptoms in patients having aura but not in those without aura. A study of the novel agent tonabersat, which inhibits CSD, found that the agent helped to prevent migraine attacks with aura only, suggesting that CSD may but not be involved in attacks without aura. [15]

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