Optogenetic Spreading Depression Elicits Trigeminal Pain and Anxiety Behavior

Andrea M. Harriott, David Y. Chung, Aylin Uner, Refik O. Bozdayi, Andreia Morais, Tsubasa Takizawa, Tao Qin, Cenk Ayata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Cortical spreading depression (SD) is an intense depolarization underlying migraine aura. Despite the weight of evidence linking SD to the pain phase of migraine, controversy remains over a causal role of SD in cephalgia because of the invasive nature of previous SD induction methods. To overcome this problem, we used a novel minimally invasive optogenetic SD induction method and examined the effect of SD on behavior. Methods: Optogenetic SD was induced as a single event or repeatedly every other day for 2 weeks. End points, including periorbital and hindpaw mechanical allodynia, mouse grimace, anxiety, and working memory, were examined in male and female mice. Results: A single SD produced bilateral periorbital mechanical allodynia that developed within 1 hour and resolved within 2 days. Sumatriptan prevented periorbital allodynia when administered immediately after SD. Repeated SDs also produced bilateral periorbital allodynia that lasted 4 days and resolved within 2 weeks after the last SD. In contrast, the hindpaw withdrawal thresholds did not change after repeated SDs suggesting that SD-induced allodynia was limited to the trigeminal region. Moreover, repeated SDs increased mouse grimace scores 2 days after the last SD, whereas a single SD did not. Repeated SDs also increased thigmotaxis scores as a measure of anxiety. In contrast, neither single nor repeated SDs affected visuospatial working memory. We did not detect sexual dimorphism in any end point. Interpretation: Altogether, these data show a clinically congruent causal relationship among SD, trigeminal pain, and anxiety behavior, possibly reflecting SD modulation of hypothalamic, thalamic, and limbic mechanisms. ANN NEUROL 2021;89:99–110.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-110
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Neurology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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