Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide (CGRP) and Migraine

The neuropeptide calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) has long been postulated to play an integral role in the pathophysiology of migraine. While clinical findings are consistent with such a role, the specific pathogenic mechanisms of CGRP in migraine have remained speculative until recently. Through advances in molecular neuroscience, the pathogenic mechanisms of CGRP in migraine have begun to be elucidated. This paper discusses the hypothesized role of CGRP in migraine and reviews recent findings on the molecular mechanisms of this neuropeptide in migraine pathophysiology. Studies in cultured trigeminal neurons demonstrate that CGRP is released from trigeminal ganglia cells, that CGRP transcription is increased under conditions mimicking neurogenic inflammation, that migraine pharmacotherapies can both reduce CGRP release and inhibit CGRP transcription, and that tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), an endogenous inflammatory mediator implicated in migraine, can stimulate CGRP transcription.