Migraine Award funded by Michael Rogers Stirling Estate
Characterisation of a novel neural pathway involved in migraine.
Dr Ernest Jennings
University of Melbourne
Co-Investigator: Dr Jason Ivanusic
Our lab studies the mechanisms of pain originating in the head- including migraine headache. Population health studies suggest that approximately 12% of the population in Western countries suffer from migraine and the associated debilitating symptoms, which are disruptive to normal function in the home or workplace.
Although some factors that trigger migraine are known, the mechanisms are relatively poorly characterised. Migraineurs report pain and autonomic symptoms (e.g. nausea, sensitivity to light, crying or runny nose). The latter two symptoms are activated by a specific group of nerve cells located behind the eye – parasympathetic neurons in the sphenopalatine ganglion. In terms of the project currently funded by the Brain Foundation, we plan to further investigate the connectivity and control of these cells, as they are known to be active in some of the symptoms of migraine. To do this, we will use histological markers that are specific to migraine- allowing us to precisely visualise (using high-resolution confocal microscopy) the nerve cells and establish their connectivity. The data obtained from these preliminary studies will allow us to better understand the role of these nerve cells in these specific migraine symptoms. These data may also help to better understand the mechanisms of migraine more generally- with the ultimate aim of developing better treatment outcomes for migraineurs.
Our lab has been set up recently and we appreciate the support of the Brain Foundation and its donors in allowing us to start these studies.