A prolactin-dependent sexually dimorphic mechanism of migraine chronification.

TitleA prolactin-dependent sexually dimorphic mechanism of migraine chronification.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsIkegami D, Navratilova E, Yue X, Moutal A, Kopruszinski CM, Khanna R, Patwardhan A, Dodick DW, Porreca F
Date Published2022 Mar
KeywordsAnimals, Female, Headache Disorders, Secondary, Humans, Hyperalgesia, Male, Mice, Migraine Disorders, Prolactin, Sumatriptan

OBJECTIVE: Determination of possible sex differences in mechanisms promoting migraine progression and the contribution of prolactin and the prolactin long (PRLR-L) and short (PRLR-S) receptor isoforms.

BACKGROUND: The majority of patients with chronic migraine and medication overuse headache are female. Prolactin is present at higher levels in women and increases migraine. Prolactin signaling at the PRLR-S selectively sensitizes nociceptors in female rodents, while expression of the PRLR-L is protective.

METHODS: Medication overuse headache was modeled by repeated sumatriptan administration in male and female mice. Periorbital and hindpaw cutaneous allodynia served as a surrogate of migraine-like pain. PRLR-L and PRLR-S isoforms were measured in the trigeminal ganglion with western blotting. Possible co-localization of PRLR with serotonin 5HT1B and 5HT1D receptors was determined with RNAscope. Cabergoline, a dopamine receptor agonist that inhibits circulating prolactin, was co-administered with sumatriptan. Nasal administration of CRISPR/Cas9 plasmid was used to edit expression of both PRLR isoforms.

RESULTS: PRLR was co-localized with 5HT1B or 5HT1D receptors in the ophthalmic region of female trigeminal ganglion. A single injection of sumatriptan increased serum PRL levels in female mice. Repeated sumatriptan promoted cutaneous allodynia in both sexes but down-regulated trigeminal ganglion PRLR-L, without altering PRLR-S, only in females. Co-administration of sumatriptan with cabergoline prevented allodynia and down-regulation of PRLR-L only in females. CRISPR/Cas9 editing of both PRLR isoforms in the trigeminal ganglion prevented sumatriptan-induced periorbital allodynia in females.

INTERPRETATION: We identified a sexually dimorphic mechanism of migraine chronification that involves down-regulation of PRLR-L and increased signaling of circulating prolactin at PRLR-S. These studies reveal a previously unrecognized neuroendocrine mechanism linking the hypothalamus to nociceptor sensitization that increases the risk of migraine pain in females and suggest opportunities for novel sex-specific therapies including gene editing through nasal delivery of CRISPR/Cas9 constructs.

Alternate JournalCephalalgia
PubMed ID34510920
Grant ListR01 NS119263 / NS / NINDS NIH HHS / United States
Faculty Member Reference: 
Edita Navratilova
Frank Porreca, PhD