Cluster headache (CH) is a severe primary headache with a prevalence of 1/1000 individuals, and a predominance in men. Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) is a potent vasodilator, originating in trigeminal neurons and has a central role in CH pathophysiology. CGRP and the CGRP receptor complex have recently taken center stage as therapeutic targets for primary headaches, such as migraine. Multiple CGRP and CGRP receptor monoclonal antibodies, as well as small molecule antagonists (gepants) are on their way constituting a new frontier of migraine and possibly CH medication. During a CH attack, there is an activation of the trigeminal-autonomic reflex with the release of CGRP, and inversely if CGRP is administered to a CH patient in an active disease phase, it triggers an attack. Increased levels of CGRP have been found in ipsilateral jugular vein blood during the active phase of CH. This process is hypothesized to have a key role in the intense pain perception and in the associated distinctive vasodilation. So far, clinical tests of CGRP antibodies have been inconclusive in CH patients. This review summarizes the current state of knowledge on the role of CGRP in CH pathology, and as a target for future treatments.
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