A tsunami-like mechanism in mice brains teach us more about migraines

A migraine with aura is a severe headache that accompanies symptoms like dizziness, zigzag line vision, blind spots, tingling sensation, and also sensitivity to light. Perhaps this occurs a lit bit before the headache commences. The molecular underpinning of the condition is underwork for decades.

Recently, scientists have found tsunami-like waves of a signaling molecule in the mice brain. And for instance, they identified excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate as the etiology of it.

Glutamate, we know, is the most effective signaling molecule in the brain. The neurons build up their network to sense signals from elsewhere and promote the motor neuron rapidly. This would lead to shifts in brain activity, which defines a person with migraines. Also, migraine people will have a higher level of glutamate when compared to normal people.

Nonetheless, migraines are not always linked with an aura. Even people with an aura experience only little head pain. Although glutamate is responsible for causing migraine, the triggering agent varies. It might be a strong odor, bright light, stress that can cause spreading depolarization in the brain.

This widespread passage of current, we call it a tsunami of wave-like, excites every neuron in the brain. Besides, it also occurs in other conditions like seizures, epilepsy, stroke, which remain doubtful.

Studies on mice

Researchers designed mice to produce a rare subtype of migraine with auras similar to humans. They noticed plumes of glutamate on the surfaces of the brain by using a fluorescent binding protein. Importantly, they observed plumes for less than a second, and it moves outwardly. This passes the electric current all over the brain, which they observe as a tsunami-like wave of the fluorescent molecule.

It is not just the neurons pumping out more glutamate, but the astrocytes mechanism gets hampered. As these glial cells have the habit of uptaking excess of glutamate, the malfunction of it will show the effects of migraine.

However, this study has done only in mice, we cannot generalize the statement to humans with or without auras. Still, the findings will be beneficial for further studies in the future, and also to know the effect of glutamate plumes on other conditions like epilepsy and stroke.

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Source: ScienceAlert

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