Extrasynaptic δGABAA receptors mediate resistance to migraine-like phenotype in rats

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Alpay B., Cimen B., AKAYDIN E., ONAT F., BELEN H. B., SARA M. Y.

Journal of Headache and Pain, vol.25, no.1, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 25 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1186/s10194-024-01777-4
  • Journal Name: Journal of Headache and Pain
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, CINAHL, MEDLINE, Psycinfo, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: Extrasynaptic GABAA receptor, GAERS, Inhibitory tonus, Light aversion, Mechanical allodynia, Migraine
  • Gazi University Affiliated: Yes


Background: GABA, a key inhibitory neurotransmitter, has synaptic and extrasynaptic receptors on the postsynaptic neuron. Background GABA, which spills over from the synaptic cleft, acts on extrasynaptic delta subunit containing GABAA receptors. The role of extrasynaptic GABAergic input in migraine is unknown. We investigated the susceptibility to valid migraine-provoking substances with clinically relevant behavioral readouts in Genetic Absence Epilepsy of Rats Strasbourg (GAERS), in which the GABAergic tonus was altered. Subsequently, we screened relevant GABAergic mechanisms in Wistar rats by pharmacological means to identify the mechanisms. Methods: Wistar and GAERS rats were administered nitroglycerin (10 mg/kg) or levcromakalim (1 mg/kg). Mechanical allodynia and photophobia were assessed using von Frey monofilaments and a dark-light box. Effects of GAT-1 blocker tiagabine (5 mg/kg), GABAB receptor agonist baclofen (2 mg/kg), synaptic GABAA receptor agonist diazepam (1 mg/kg), extrasynaptic GABAA receptor agonists gaboxadol (4 mg/kg), and muscimol (0.75 mg/kg), T-type calcium channel blocker ethosuximide (100 mg/kg) or synaptic GABAA receptor antagonist flumazenil (15 mg/kg) on levcromakalim-induced migraine phenotype were screened. Results: Unlike Wistar rats, GAERS exhibited no reduction in mechanical pain thresholds or light aversion following nitroglycerin or levcromakalim injection. Ethosuximide did not reverse the resistant phenotype in GAERS, excluding the role of T-type calcium channel dysfunction in this phenomenon. Tiagabine prevented levcromakalim-induced mechanical allodynia in Wistar rats, suggesting a key role in enhanced GABA spillover. Baclofen did not alleviate mechanical allodynia. Diazepam failed to mitigate levcromakalim-induced migraine phenotype. Additionally, the resistant phenotype in GAERS was not affected by flumazenil. Extrasynaptic GABAA receptor agonists gaboxadol and muscimol inhibited periorbital allodynia in Wistar rats. Conclusion: Our study introduced a rat strain resistant to migraine-provoking agents and signified a critical involvement of extrasynaptic δGABAergic receptors. Extrasynaptic δ GABAA receptors, by mediating constant background inhibition on the excitability of neurons, stand as a novel drug target with a therapeutic potential in migraine. Graphical abstract: (Figure presented.).