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OBJECTIVE: To determine if migraine with aura is associated with neuroinflammation, which has been suggested by preclinical models of cortical spreading depression (CSD) as well as imaging of human pain conditions. METHODS: Thirteen migraineurs with aura and 16 healthy controls received integrated PET/MRI brain scans with [11C]PBR28, a radioligand that binds to the 18 kDa translocator protein, a marker of glial activation. Standardized uptake value ratio (SUVR) was compared between groups, and regressed against clinical variables, using region of interest and whole-brain voxelwise analyses. RESULTS: Compared to healthy controls, migraineurs demonstrated SUVR elevations in nociceptive processing areas (e.g., thalamus and primary/secondary somatosensory and insular cortices) as well as in areas previously shown to be involved in CSD generation (visual cortex). SUVR levels in frontoinsular cortex, primary/secondary somatosensory cortices, and basal ganglia were correlated with frequency of migraine attacks. CONCLUSIONS: These findings demonstrate that migraine with aura is associated with neuroimmune activation/neuroinflammation, and support a possible link between CSD and glial activation, previously observed in animals.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





e2038 - e2050