Spanish researchers have discovered that the role of this sex hormone around the trigeminal nerve could be key in migraine episodes, which could explain why woman suffer from them more often.
Sex hormones could play a key role in the onset of migraine episodes, according to a study published today by the team of Antonio Ferrer Montiel, a researcher at the Miguel Hernández University. In a paper published in the journal Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences, the authors demonstrate the role of estrogen - a hormone that presents its highest levels in women of reproductive age - in the cells surrounding the trigeminal nerve that triggers severe headaches.
"Sex hormones intervene by making the ion channels of more or less vulnerable cells"
We have been able to observe significant differences between men and women in our experimental model of migraine and we are trying to understand the molecular relationships responsible for these differences, " says Ferrer Montiel. "Although it is a complex process, we believe that the modulation of the trigeminovascular system by the sex hormones plays an important role that has not been well identified".
For the work, which is currently based on experiments in vitro and in animals, the authors have reviewed decades of literature on sex hormones, sensitivity to migraine and the cellular response during these episodes to identify what specific role these hormones play. Some, like testosterone, seem to protect against migraines while others, like prolactin, seem to make them worse. And the way they intervene is by making the ion channels of the cells more or less vulnerable to the signal that triggers the headache.
"If successful, we will contribute to personalized medicine in the treatment of migraine"
Estrogen has always been identified as a key to understanding migraine given the higher prevalence of migraines in women during the period of menstruation, when hormone levels are triggered. What the new work finds is the mechanism by which this hormone could be altering the trigeminal nerve and helping to trigger the episodes. The authors warn that the results are preliminary and have yet to be tested in humans, but they are optimistic about the possibility of developing drugs for migraine if the finding is confirmed.
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