Induction of calcitonin gene-related peptide expression in rats by cortical spreading depression

Yan Wang, Anne E. Tye, Junli Zhao, Dongqing Ma, Ann C. Raddant, Fan Bu, Benjamin L. Spector, Nolan K. Winslow, Minyan Wang, Andrew F. Russo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The neuropeptide calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) has now been established as a key player in migraine. However, the mechanisms underlying the reported elevation of CGRP in the serum and cerebrospinal fluid of some migraineurs are not known. A candidate mechanism is cortical spreading depression (CSD), which is associated with migraine with aura and traumatic brain injury. The aim of this study was to investigate whether CGRP gene expression may be induced by experimental CSD in the rat cerebral cortex. Methods: CSD was induced by topical application of KCl and monitored using electrophysiological methods. Quantitative PCR and ELISA were used to measure CGRP mRNA and peptide levels in discrete ipsilateral and contralateral cortical regions of the rat brain 24 hours following CSD events and compared with sham treatments. Results: The data show that multiple, but not single, CSD events significantly increase CGRP mRNA levels at 24 hours post-CSD in the ipsilateral rat cerebral cortex. Increased CGRP was observed in the ipsilateral frontal, motor, somatosensory, and visual cortices, but not the cingulate cortex, or contralateral cortices. CSD also induced CGRP peptide expression in the ipsilateral, but not contralateral, cortex. Conclusions: Repeated CSD provides a mechanism for prolonged elevation of CGRP in the cerebral cortex, which may contribute to migraine and post-traumatic headache.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-341
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • CGRP
  • gene expression
  • migraine
  • post-traumatic headache
  • traumatic brain injury

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