Amynah Pradhan, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois Chicago and also the senior author of the study, was studying to identify a new mechanism of chronic migraine and propose a cellular pathway for migraine therapies.
The research focused on the neurobiology of pain and headache, explained that the dynamic process of neural plasticity which is routing and rerouting connections among nerve cells, is critical for the causes as well as cures for disorders of the central nervous system such as depression, chronic pain, and addiction.
The structures of all the cells inside the body including nerve cells are supported by the ‘cytoskeleton’ which is made by the ‘Tubulin’ protein. This cell’s response to the stimulus of the environment results due to the constant waxing and waning of this Tubulin protein.
Tubulin is modified in the body through a chemical process called acetylation. When tubulin is acetylated it encourages flexible, stable cytoskeleton; while tubulin deacetylation, induced by histone deacetylase 6, (HDAC6) promotes cytoskeletal instability.
Pradhan’s studies in mice models showed that decreased neuronal complexity may be a feature, or mechanism, of chronic migraine. When HDAC6 is inhibited, acetylation of tubulin and cytoskeletal’s flexibility is restored. Additionally, HDAC6 reversed the cellular correlates of migraine and relieved migraine-associated pain, according to the study.
According to the report published in eLife, it was suggested that decreased neuronal complexity might be a cause for chronic migraines and its restoration could be a hallmark for its treatment.
This study also suggested that the development of HDAC6 inhibitors could be a novel therapeutic strategy for migraines. Blocking HDAC6 would allow neurons to restore their flexibility so the brain would be more receptive to other types of treatment.
Migraine is a common brain disorder that is estimated to affect 14% of the world population. Current U.S. cost estimates for migraines are as high as 40 billion dollars annually.
One particularly debilitating subset of migraine patients is those with chronic migraine, defined as having more than 15 headache days a month. Also, Migraine therapies are either not entirely effective or poorly tolerated, creating a need for more diverse drug therapies.
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