A novel, injury-free rodent model of vulnerability for assessment of acute and preventive therapies reveals temporal contributions of CGRP-receptor activation in migraine-like pain

Caroline M. Kopruszinski, Edita Navratilova, Juliana Swiokla, David W. Dodick, Iain P. Chessell, Frank Porreca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Aim: Development and characterization of a novel injury-free preclinical model of migraine-like pain allowing mechanistic assessment of both acute and preventive treatments. Methods: A “two-hit” hyperalgesic priming strategy was used to induce vulnerability to a normally subthreshold challenge with umbellulone, a transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1) activator, in uninjured female and male C57BL/6 mice. Priming (i.e. the first hit) was induced by three consecutive daily episodes of restraint stress; repeated umbellulone was also evaluated for potential priming effects. Sixteen days after the first restraint stress, mice received inhalational umbellulone (i.e. the second hit) to elicit migraine-like pain. Medications currently used for acute or preventive migraine therapy including propranolol (a beta blocker) and sumatriptan (5HT1B/D agonist), as well as olcegepant, an experimental calcitonin gene related peptide (CGRP) receptor antagonist and nor-Binaltorphimine (nor-BNI), an experimental long-acting kappa opioid receptor (KOR) antagonist, were investigated for their efficacy to block priming and prevent or reverse umbellulone-induced allodynia in primed animals. To assess migraine-like pain, cutaneous allodynia was determined by responses to periorbital or hindpaw probing with von Frey filaments. Results: Repeated restraint stress, but not umbellulone exposure, produced transient cutaneous allodynia that resolved within 16 d. Restraint stress produced long-lasting priming that persisted beyond 16 d, as demonstrated by reinstatement of cutaneous allodynia following inhalational umbellulone challenge. Pretreatment with propranolol or nor-BNI prior to restraint stress prevented both transient cutaneous allodynia and priming, demonstrated by a lack of umbellulone-induced cutaneous allodynia. Following establishment of restraint stress priming, olcegepant, but not propranolol or nor-BNI, prevented umbellulone-induced cutaneous allodynia. When administered 1 h after umbellulone, sumatriptan, but not olcegepant, reversed umbellulone-induced cutaneous allodynia in restraint stress-primed rats. Conclusion: We have developed a novel injury-free model with translational relevance that can be used to study mechanisms relevant to migraine-like pain and to evaluate novel acute or preventive treatments. Restraint stress priming induced a state of vulnerability to a subthreshold stimulus that has been referred to as “latent sensitization”. The development of latent sensitization could be prevented by blockade of stress pathways with propranolol or with a kappa opioid receptor antagonist. Following establishment of latent sensitization, subthreshold stimulation with umbellulone reinstated cutaneous allodynia, likely from activation of meningeal TRPA1-expressing nociceptors. Accordingly, in restraint stress-primed animals, sumatriptan reversed umbellulone-induced cutaneous allodynia, supporting peripheral sites of action, while propranolol and nor-BNI were not effective. Surprisingly, olcegepant was effective in mice with latent sensitization when given prior to, but not after, umbellulone challenge, suggesting time-dependent contributions of calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor signaling in promoting migraine-like pain in this model. Activation of the calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor participates in initiating, but has a more limited role in maintaining, pain responses, supporting the efficacy of small molecule calcitonin gene-related peptide antagonists as preventive medications. Additionally, the effectiveness of sumatriptan in reversal of established pain thus suggests modulation of additional, non-calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor-mediated nociceptive mechanisms. Kappa opioid receptor antagonists may represent a novel preventive therapy for stress-related migraine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-317
Number of pages13
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • KOR antagonist
  • Migraine
  • olcegepant
  • priming
  • stress
  • umbellulone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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