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This article reviews the pathophysiology and pharmacology of emesis in relation to migraine pathogenesis. Also, the place of antiemetic and gastrointestinal prokinetic agents in current and future acute migraine treatment strategies is reviewed. The mechanisms of action of current and novel acute migraine therapies are considered with respect to the neurogenic and vascular hypothesis. Control of migraine-associated nausea and vomiting is often achieved with the benzamide dopamine D2 receptor antagonist metoclopramide. This drug also has 5HT3 receptor antagonist activity and reproducibly stimulates gastric motility to increase the availability of orally administered drugs. Other antiemetic and gastroprokinetic agents with potential value for the treatment of migraine-associated nausea and vomiting could speed absorption of oral antimigraine therapies without central nervous system side effects. Domperidone, a dopamine D2 receptor antagonist that does not cross the blood brain barrier is relatively free of the central side-effect liability of metoclopramide. Cisapride, a benzamide 5HT4 receptor agonist gastrointestinal prokinetic drug, lacks dopamine antagonist activity. A controlled comparison of these agents as migraine co-therapies could provide information on the importance of peripheral and central mechanisms in migraine-associated nausea and vomiting and improve antimigraine treatment options.


C G Dahlöf, R J Hargreaves. Pathophysiology and pharmacology of migraine. Is there a place for antiemetics in future treatment strategies? Cephalalgia : an international journal of headache. 1998 Nov;18(9):593-604

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PMID: 9876882

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