The mechanism by which intramuscular injection of BoNTA into the craniofacial muscles decreases migraine headaches is not known. In a blinded study, the effect of BoNTA on the mechanical and chemical responsiveness of individual temporalis muscle nociceptors and muscle neurogenic vasodilation was investigated in female rats. Mechanical threshold was measured for 3 h following intramuscular injection of BoNTA or vehicle, and for 10 min after a subsequent injection of the algogen glutamate. Injection of BoNTA significantly increased the mechanical threshold of muscle nociceptors without altering the muscle surface temperature and blocked glutamate-induced mechanical sensitization and neurogenic vasodilation. None of these effects were reproduced by pancuronium-induced muscle paralysis. Western blot analysis of temporalis muscles indicated that BoNTA significantly decreased SNAP-25. Measurement of interstitial glutamate concentration with a glutamate biosensor indicated that BoNTA significantly reduced glutamate concentrations. The mechanical sensitivity of muscle nociceptors is modulated by glutamate concentration through activation of peripheral NMDA receptors. Immunohistochemical experiments were conducted and they indicated that half of the NMDA-expressing temporalis nerve fibers co-expressed substance P or CGRP. Additional electrophysiology experiments examined the effect of antagonists for NMDA, CGRP and NK1 receptors on glutamate-induced effects. Glutamate-induced mechanical sensitization was only blocked by the NMDA receptor antagonist, but muscle neurogenic vasodilation was attenuated by NMDA or CGRP receptor antagonists. These data suggest that injection of BoNTA into craniofacial muscles acts to decrease migraine headaches by rapidly decreasing the mechanical sensitivity of temporalis muscle nociceptors through inhibition of glutamate release and by attenuating the provoked release of CGRP from muscle nociceptors.
aThe Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
bCenter for Sensory-Motor Interaction (SMI), Dept. of Health Science and Technology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
*Corresponding author. Address: The Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, The University of British Columbia, 2146 East Mall, Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Z3. Tel.: +1 604 822 7715; fax: +1 604 822 3035.
Submitted April 28, 2010; revised July 14, 2010; accepted July 27, 2010.