Preclinical assessment of onabotulinumtoxinA for the treatment of mild traumatic brain injury-related acute and persistent post-traumatic headache

Edita Navratilova, Janice Oyarzo, Trent Anderson, Ron S. Broide, Sudhakar R. Subramaniam, Edwin J. Vazquez-Cintron, Mitchell F. Brin, Todd J. Schwedt, David W. Dodick, Frank Porreca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective: Investigation of onabotulinumtoxinA in a murine model of acute and persistent post-traumatic headache. Methods: Mild traumatic brain injury was induced with a weight drop method. Periorbital and hindpaw cutaneous allodynia were measured for 14 days. Mice were then exposed to bright light stress and allodynia was reassessed. OnabotulinumtoxinA (0.5 U) was injected subcutaneously over the cranial sutures at different post-injury time points. Results: After milt traumatic brain injury, mice exhibited periorbital and hindpaw allodynia that lasted for approximately 14 days. Allodynia could be reinstated on days 14–67 by exposure to stress only in previously injured mice. OnabotulinumtoxinA administration at 2 h after mild traumatic brain injury fully blocked both transient acute and stress-induced allodynia up to day 67. When administered 72 h post-mild traumatic brain injury, onabotulinumtoxinA reversed acute allodynia, but only partially prevented stress-induced allodynia. OnabotulinumtoxinA administration at day 12, when initial allodynia was largely resolved, produced incomplete and transient prevention of stress-induced allodynia. The degree of acute allodynia correlated positively with subsequent stress-induced allodynia. Conclusion: Mild traumatic brain injury induced transient headache-like pain followed by long lasting sensitization and persistent vulnerability to a normally innocuous stress stimulus, respectively modeling acute and persistent post-traumatic headache. Administration of onabotulinumtoxinA following the resolution of acute post-traumatic headache diminished persistent post-traumatic headache but the effects were transient, suggesting that underlying persistent mild traumatic brain injury-induced maladaptations were not reversed. In contrast, early onabotulinumtoxinA administration fully blocked both acute post-traumatic headache as well as the transition to persistent post-traumatic headache suggesting prevention of neural adaptations that promote vulnerability to headache-like pain. Additionally, the degree of acute post-traumatic headache was predictive of risk of persistent post-traumatic headache.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1194-1206
Number of pages13
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • Post-traumatic headache
  • acute post-traumatic headache
  • botulinum toxin
  • concussion
  • cutaneous allodynia
  • mild traumatic brain injury
  • persistent post-traumatic headache

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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