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Trigeminal activation patterns evoked by chemical stimulation of the dura mater in rats

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Background: Although migraine is one of the most common primary headaches, its therapy is still limited in many cases. The use of animal models is crucial in the development of novel therapeutic strategies, but unfortunately, none of them show all aspects of the disease, therefore, there is a constant need for further improvement in this field. The application of inflammatory agents on the dura mater is a widely accepted method to mimic neurogenic inflammation in rodents, which plays a key role in the pathomechanism of migraine. Complete Freund's Adjuvant (CFA), and a mixture of inflammatory mediators, called inflammatory soup (IS) are often used for this purpose. Methods: To examine the activation pattern that is caused by chemical stimulation of dura mater, we applied CFA or IS over the right parietal lobe. After 2 h and 4 h (CFA groups), or 2.5 h and 4 h (IS groups), animals were perfused, and c-Fos immunoreactive cells were counted in the caudal trigeminal nucleus. To explore every pitfall, we examined whether our surgical procedure (anesthetic drug, stereotaxic apparatus, local lidocaine) can alter the results under the same experimental settings. c-Fos labeled cells were counted in the second-order neuron area based on the somatotopic organization of the trigeminal nerve branches. Results: We could not find any difference between the CFA and physiological saline group neither 2 h, nor 4 h after dural stimulation. IS caused significant difference after both time points between IS treated and control group, and between treated (right) and control (left) side. Stereotaxic frame usage had a substantial effect on the obtained results. Conclusions: Counting c-Fos immunoreactive cells based on somatotopic organization of the trigeminal nerve helped to examine the effect of chemical stimulation of dura in a more specific way. As a result, the use of IS over the parietal lobe caused activation in the area of the ophthalmic nerve. To see this effect, the use of lidocaine anesthesia is indispensable. In conclusion, application of IS on the dura mater induces short-term, more robust c-Fos activation than CFA, therefore it might offer a better approach to model acute migraine headache in rodents.




Laborc, K. F., Spekker, E., Bohár, Z., Szucs, M., Nagy-Grócz, G., Fejes-Szabó, A., … Párdutz, Á. (2020). Trigeminal activation patterns evoked by chemical stimulation of the dura mater in rats. Journal of Headache and Pain, 21(1).

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