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Biologic and Materials Sciences and Division of Prosthodontics

DaSilva Lab Current Research

Imaging Neurotransmitter Receptors in Migraine


Researchers will use PET and MRI imaging in people who get migraine headaches and in healthy volunteers to identify factors that may be correlated with the severity of migraine attacks.

Migraine is a chronic disorder characterized by sudden attacks of severe headache pain that are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and hypersensitivity to light and sound. Many migraine therapies do not produce long-lasting relief, suggesting that chronic migraine attacks may be due to cellular and molecular changes in the brain. Pain perception in migraine and other chronic pain disorders has been linked to a change in the number of receptors on neurons that take up opioids that are naturally produced in the brain. Additionally, nausea has been linked to altered numbers of receptors that take up the neurotransmitter dopamine.  In previous studies of patients with migraine, the Michigan investigators found that certain brain regions that normally express high levels of these opioid and dopamine receptors also show structural changes. The investigators hypothesize that migraine is sustained by mal-adaptive changes that occur at both the molecular and cellular levels in brain circuitry. Specifically, they suspect that at the molecular level, the brains of migraine patients have alterations in certain subtypes of opiate and dopamine receptors; and at the cellular level, patients have cortical thickness and white matter alterations.

FlyerSee flyer for current research project
"Brain as Therapeutic and Research
Target in Trigeminal Neuropathic Pain".