Migraine sufferers may be more vulnerable to an alcohol-induced headache after a night of drinking, according to researchers.
Until now, studying the mechanism behind migraine and other forms of recurrent headaches has not been possible in an animal model, says Michael Oshinsky, assistant Neurology professor at Jefferson Medical College (JMC).
Oshinsky developed a rat model in which headaches are induced by repeatedly stimulating, over weeks to months, the brain's dura mater with an inflammatory mixture. Dura mater is the outermost, toughest, and most fibrous of the three membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.
Oshinsky and Christina Maxwell, doctoral student in the neuroscience programme, used their model to study the effects of alcohol on rats who suffer recurrent migraines, compared to rats free of headaches.
Such headaches are associated with hypersensitivity to light, sound and touch on the head and face. Researchers, using four groups of rats, measured their sensitivity to touch around the eye. They monitored the change in pain threshold of the face resulting from the repeated dural stimulation.
"Our results suggest that dehydration or impurities in alcohol are not responsible for hangover headache," Oshinsky said.
"Since these rats were sufficiently hydrated and the alcohol they received contained no impurities, the alcohol itself or a metabolite must be causing the hangover-like headache. These data confirm the clinical observation that people with migraine are more susceptible to alcohol-induced headaches."
Oshinsky and his lab are now also studying the mechanism for the induction of headache and also the metabolites of alcohol that cause hangover, said a JMC release.