What is the role of nitric oxide (NO) in the pathogenesis of migraine?

Updated: Aug 15, 2019
  • Author: William C Robertson, Jr, MD; Chief Editor: Amy Kao, MD  more...
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Nitric oxide (NO) has been found to cause cerebral arterial dilation and delayed headache in migraineurs; however, it has not been found to cause aura.

NO regulates blood pressure, inhibits platelet function, and acts as a neurotransmitter. It is involved in the central processing of pain and in the regulation of vasodilatation in the central nervous system and is produced by NO synthase in neurons. NO donator agents (eg, nitroglycerin, glyceryl trinitrate, isosorbide) cause migrainelike pain after 3-10 hours. Monomethyl-L-arginine, a specific inhibitor of NO synthase, is an effective treatment for migraine pain.

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