Beyond the Abstract: Interviews with Scientists

Interview with K.C. Brennan, MD
Assistant Professor and Division Chief for Translational Neuroscience in the Departments of Neurology, Neurobiology, and Anatomy at the University of Utah

Non-canonical glutamate signaling in a genetic model of migraine with aura

Key Point: What we discovered totally unexpectedly were these plumes or puffs or clouds of glutamate that were released apparently spontaneously in an animal model of migraine. These were animals carrying a gene for migraine that’s transmitted in an Italian family. So this form of glutamate release that we identified was completely unknown and, to our knowledge, hasn’t been reported before, and it does not conform to the rules of canonical glutamate signaling.
Interview with Daniela Pietrobon, PhD Professor of Physiology, University of Padova

Astrocyte dysfunction increases cortical dendritic excitability and promotes cranial pain in familial migraine

Key Point: A genetic defect may be key to one of the mechanisms leading to central sensitization in migraine. Using a mouse model to insert a genetic error found in humans with familial hemiplegic migraine, Dr Pietrobon demonstrates how this mutation leads to the characteristic hyperexcitability of migraine disease.

Normally astrocytes are the housekeepers of the brain. A genetic defect that inactivates a protein within astrocytes interferes with the normal removal of glutamate and potassium in the cingulate cortex. Without this protein, excessive amounts of the stimulating neurotransmitter glutamate and the imbalance of potassium concentrations across cell membranes combine to leads to hypersensitivity, or allodynia, in the orofacial region.
Inhibition of Trigeminal Nociception by Non-invasive Vagus Nerve Stimulation: Investigating the Role of GABAergic and Serotonergic Pathways in a Model of Episodic Migraine
Lauren E. Cornelison, Sara E. Woodman and Paul L. Durham*

Presentation by Paul Durham, PhD