Discovery of CGRP
In 1985, researchers discovered that something called CGRP could be linked to migraines. CGRP is a hormone that helps control calcium in our body.
CGRP belongs to a family of hormones, including calcitonin, which is found in our brain and nervous system. Scientists have found it in more than half of certain nerve fibers and in various parts of the body, including blood vessels.
CGRP: a blood vessel widener
CGRP has the ability to widen arteries, thereby increasing blood flow to the brain. It does this by working with a substance called cAMP. But even though CGRP disappears in some parts of the body, it doesn't seem to affect pressure or blood flow. Some believe that CGRP may play a protective role in response to narrowing of blood vessels.
CGRP and migraine
For migraine sufferers, studies have shown that stimulating a certain part of the brain releases CGRP. During a migraine attack, it seems that CGRP is the only substance released in large quantities. It has been found in high amounts in different body fluids during a migraine attack.
Additionally, in people with migraines, giving CGRP can mimic the type of headache they experience during an attack. CGRP is also present in different areas of the brain that control pain, nausea, and other functions.
Although we don't yet fully understand the role of CGRP in the brain, it is clearly important in the development of migraines. That's why a lot of recent research has focused on this hormone to treat migraine. Scientists are currently investigating specific treatments that target CGRP or its receptor to help people with migraines.