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New DaSilva study focuses on dopamine's link to migraines

Dr. Alex DaSilva

Ann Arbor, Mich., March 31, 2017 – Dr. Alex DaSilva, assistant professor in the Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences, is the lead author of a new study on migraine headaches that could lead to new treatment methods for patients who suffer from the debilitating condition.

DaSilva and his co-researchers used PET scans of the brain to show the fluctuation of dopamine levels during migraine attacks. The research showed, among other findings, that dopamine levels fell significantly during a patient’s migraine attacks. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate emotion, motivation and sensory perception. Better understanding its connection to migraines could help improve dopamine-based therapies that are currently used to treat migraines. The study may also help explain migraine patients' behavior during attacks, which often involves needing to avoid sensory stimulation.

A summary of the findings is posted on the U-M News and Information website.

The study, “Dopamine D2/D3 Imbalance During Migraine Attack and Allodynia In Vivo,” is in the March 29 issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

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