Headache Drugs Logo
Home | About Dr. Robbins | Archived Articles | Headache Books | Topic Index  

Back to List



New Therapeutic Target in Primary
Headaches -- Blocking the CGRP Receptor
Edvinsson L.
Posted: January 2004  
Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2003;7:377-383

The primary headaches are among the most prevalent neurological disorders, afflicting up to 16% of the adult population. The associated pain originates from intracranial blood vessels that are innervated by sensory nerves storing several neurotransmitters. In primary headaches, there is a clear association between the headache and the release of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), but not other neuronal messengers. The specific purpose of this review is to describe CGRP in the human cranial circulation and to elucidate a possible role for a specific antagonist in the treatment of primary headaches. Acute treatment with administration of a 5-HT (1B/1D) agonist (triptan) results in alleviation of the headache and normalization of the CGRP level. The mechanism of action of triptans involves vasoconstriction of intracranial vessels and a presynaptic inhibitory effect of sensory nerves. The central role of CGRP in migraine and cluster headache pathophysiology has led to the search for small-molecule CGRP antagonists, which are predicted to have fewer cardiovascular side effects in comparison to the triptans. The initial pharmacological profile of such a group of compounds has recently been disclosed. These compounds have high selectivity for human CGRP receptors and are reportedly efficacious in the relief of acute attacks of migraine.