The pathophysiological and pharmacological basis of current drug treatment of migraine headache
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Migraine is a common neurological syndrome that affects approximately 10-20% of the population. The pathophysiology of migraine is unclear. 5-hydroxytriptamine is a key mediator in the pathogenesis of migraine and thus 5-HT1-receptor agonists are the principal drugs for acute migraine therapy. There are three classes of drugs for migraine: over-the-counter analgesics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for acute mild migraine, specific prescription drugs (triptans and ergot alkaloids) for acute severe migraine and pharmacological agents for prophylaxis of migraine. Sumatriptan, naratriptan and others, referred to as 'triptans', are the mainstay for acute treatment of migraine. Ergot alkaloids (ergotamine, dihydroergotamine) are used in patients with frequent, moderate migraine, but are less effective than triptans. There are several agents for prevention of migraine occurrence in patients with frequent or severe disabling migraine attacks. New drugs with improved efficacy and reduced side effects are needed for effective treatment and prevention of migraine.
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