Human migraine models

​Read more about the research's members, background, current projects and collaboration.​

​Members of the Human Migraine Research Unit (HMRU)

Messoud Ashina (director), Jes Olesen, Faisal Amin, Anders Hougaard, Song Guo, Nanna Arngrim, Jakob Møller Hansen, Henrik Schytz, Sabrina Khan, Marie Deen Christensen.​


The HMRU is an integral part of the Danish Headache Center and Department of Neurology, Glostrup Hospital. At the HMRU, we seek to understand molecular mechanisms of migraine and to identify disease specific biomarkers (fingerprints of migraine). The core expertise of our members is human provocation models of migraine and ultrasound-based diagnostic imaging techniques used for visualizing vascular responses during experimentally induced migraine attacks. Over recent years, we have added additional expertise in functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging (incl. MR-angiography & functional MRI). These advanced imaging techniques constitute an important supplement to our provocation models and provide new and exciting insights into migraine pathophysiology. Furthermore, the HMRU has extended its field of interest by utilizing migraine genetic discoveries in human models of migraine to investigate functional consequences of genetic mutations. These achievements would not have been possible without strong collaborative work between the HMRU, the Functional Imaging Unit, Glostrup Hospital and other research groups. 

In the future we intend to broaden our research program with novel human models of migraine and new imaging techniques (incl. PET) with the ultimate goal of defining predictive animal  models of migraine, and discovery of targets for more specific and more effective mechanism-based ​anti-migraine drugs.​

​Current projects

The hypotheses tested will be:

  • Hypoxia provokes headache and migraine attacks with aura​
  • Carbon monoxide provokes headache and migraine attacks
  • CGRP provokes more migraine attacks in patients with high genetic load than in patients with a low genetic load
  • PACAP38 provokes more migraine attacks in patients with PACAP-associated gene variant
  • Migraine attacks are associated with increased in blood-brain barrier permeability
  • Natriuretic peptides dilates cerebral arteries and induces headache
  • Patients undergoing endovascular procedures develop chronic headache
  • Migraine attacks are associated with levels of serotonin in the brain
  • Prevalence of migraine is higher in persons with the 3243A>G mutation in mitochondrial DNA
  • Low frequency neuro-stimulation of SPG provokes migraine attacks in migraine patients​
  • Pre-treatment with antihistamine blocks PACAP38 induced migraine attacks
  • The migraine brain is characterized by low levels of serotonin


Henrik Larsson (Functional and Diagnostic MR Unit, Glo­strup); Gitte Moos Knudsen (Center for Experimental Me­dicine Neuropharmacology, NeuroPharm, Neurobiology Research Unit, Rigshospitalet); David Borsook and Lino Becerra (PAIN Group, Mclean Hospital, Harvard University Boston USA); David A Boas (Optical Imaging Core & Lab at Martinos Centre Department of Radiology, Boston USA); Professor van der Geest (Leiden University Medical Centre, Holland); Professor. Michael Hoffmann (Head of Visual Pro­cessing Laboratory, Universitätsaugenklinik, Otto-von-Gu­ericke-Universität, Magdeburg); Prof Till Sprenger (De­partment of Neurology and Division of Neuroradiology, University Hospital Basel, Switzerland); Jens Peter Gøtze & Lars Bo Nielsen (Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Rigs­hospitalet); John Burnett (Departments of Internal Medici­ne and Physiology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, USA); John Vissing (Neuromuscular Research Unit, Department of Neurology, Rigshospitalet)​

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