Roles of mast cells and their interactions with the trigeminal nerve in migraine headache

Leo C. Guan, Xinzhong Dong, Dustin P. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Migraine pain is characterized by an intense, throbbing pain in the head area and possesses complex pathological and physiological origins. Among the various factors believed to contribute to migraine are mast cells (MCs), resident tissue immune cells that are closely associated with pain afferents in the meninges. In this review, we aim to examine and discuss recent findings on the individual roles of MCs and the trigeminal nerve in migraine, as well as the various connections between their mechanisms with an emphasis on the contributions those relationships make to migraine. This is seen through MC release of histamine, among other compounds, and trigeminal nerve release of calcitonin-gene-related-peptide (CGRP) and pituitary adenylate cyclase activating peptide-38 (PACAP-38), which are peptides that are thought to contribute to migraine. Secondly, we illustrate the bi-directional relationship of neurogenic inflammation as well as highlight the role of MCs and their effect on the trigeminal nerve in migraine mechanisms. Lastly, we discuss potential new targets for clinical interventions of MC- and trigeminal nerve-mediated migraine, and present future perspectives of mechanistic and translational research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMolecular pain
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • Migraine
  • mast cells
  • neurogenic inflammation
  • sensory neuron
  • trigeminal nerve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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