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J Headache Pain. 2016 Dec;17(1):69. doi: 10.1186/s10194-016-0660-7. Epub 2016 Jul 30.
Release of PACAP-38 in episodic cluster headache patients - an exploratory study.

Activation of the trigeminal-autonomic reflex, involving the trigeminal ganglion, the superior salivatory nucleus and the sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) is crucial in the pathophysiology of cluster headache (CH). Since pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide-38 (PACAP-38) is present both in the SPG and the trigeminal ganglion (TG) and its role in migraine has been described, our aim was to determine the plasma PACAP-38 levels in different phases of episodic CH (ECH). Peripheral cubital fossa blood samples were taken during the ictal and inter-bout periods of male ECH patients and from age-matched healthy controls (n = 9). Plasma PACAP-38-like immunoreactivity (LI) was measured with specific and sensitive radioimmunoassay.


Significantly lower plasma PACAP-38-LI was detected in the inter-bout period of ECH patients than in healthy controls. However, PACAP-38 was significantly elevated in the plasma during CH attacks as compared to the inter-bout phase in the same subjects (n = 5).


This exploratory study suggests that PACAP-38 may be released during the attacks of ECH. Further patients and long-term follow-up are necessary to reveal its function.


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