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Andrew Russo, PhD

Molecular Physiology & Biophysics

Office: 5-432 BSB
Office Phone: 319-335-7872

Lab: 5-431 BSB

Lab Website: https://russo.lab.uiowa.edu/

Molecular basis of migraine

We are interested in how neurons respond to changes in the environment. During migraine, there appears to be a hypersensitivity to sensory input. The major focus of the lab is the neuropeptide CGRP, which is known to be a key player in migraine. Our studies involve a combination of cell culture and in vivo systems. To generate a preclinical migraine model, we started with an intriguing clinical report that injection of CGRP induces a migraine only in migraineurs, not non-migraineurs. With that in mind, we reasoned that a CGRP-sensitized transgenic mouse might show non-headache clinical endpoints consistent with migraine. The sensitized mice overexpress the RAMP1 subunit of the CGRP receptor in the nervous system. The mice have elevated CGRP-induced neurogenic inflammation, mechanical allodynia, and light aversion analogous to photophobia. In collaborative projects, the lab is also studying the beneficial effects of CGRP and RAMP1 against hypertension and obesity. Over the past year, we have begun to study CGRP and trigeminal nerve function in humans in collaboration with clinicians. The impetus for this collaboration was the unexpectedly high frequency of migraine and photophobia in soldiers with mild traumatic brain injuries. The expectation is that trigeminal nerve sensitization due to excess CGRP could be a measurable index of photophobia and that modulation of CGRP actions could potentially provide a novel therapeutic target.

PubMed link

Department/Program Affiliations:
Molecular Medicine
Molecular Physiology and Biophysics