Hormonal Variation in Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide Affects Migraine in Women

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Women with migraine, regular menstrual cycle have higher CGRP in plasma, tear fluid during menstruation than those without migraine

HealthDay News — There are hormone-dependent changes in levels of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) among women with episodic migraine (EM), according to a study published online February 22 in Neurology.

Bianca Raffaelli, MD, from Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, and colleagues studied CGRP concentrations in plasma and tear fluid in women with EM and regular a menstrual cycle (RMC), with EM using combined oral contraception (COC), and with EM in postmenopause. The corresponding groups of age-matched women without EM were used as controls. Data were included for 180 female participants (30 in each group).

The researchers found that compared with women without migraine, those with EM and RMC had significantly higher CGRP concentrations in plasma and tear fluid during menstruation. In contrast, CGRP levels were similar in the migraine and control groups among women using COC and in postmenopause. For participants with EM and RMC, significantly higher tear fluid, but not plasma, CGRP concentrations were seen during menstruation compared with those with EM using COC.

“This elevated level of CGRP following hormonal fluctuations could help to explain why migraine attacks are more likely during menstruation and why migraine attacks gradually decline after menopause,” Raffaelli said in a statement. “These results need to be confirmed with larger studies, but we’re hopeful that they will help us better understand the migraine process.”

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