Was it something I ate? Understanding the bidirectional interaction of migraine and appetite neural circuits

Margarida Martins-Oliveira, Isaura Tavares, Peter J. Goadsby*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Migraine attacks can involve changes of appetite: while fasting or skipping meals are often reported triggers in susceptible individuals, hunger or food craving are reported in the premonitory phase. Over the last decade, there has been a growing interest and recognition of the importance of studying these overlapping fields of neuroscience, which has led to novel findings. The data suggest additional studies are needed to unravel key neurobiological mechanisms underlying the bidirectional interaction between migraine and appetite. Herein, we review information about the metabolic migraine phenotype and explore migraine therapeutic targets that have a strong input on appetite neuronal circuits, including the calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), the pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) and the orexins. Furthermore, we focus on potential therapeutic peptide targets that are involved in regulation of feeding and play a role in migraine pathophysiology, such as neuropeptide Y, insulin, glucagon and leptin. We then examine the orexigenic - anorexigenic circuit feedback loop and explore glucose metabolism disturbances. Additionally, it is proposed a different perspective on the most reported feeding-related trigger - skipping meals - as well as a link between contrasting feeding behaviors (skipping meals vs food craving). Our review aims to increase awareness of migraine through the lens of appetite neurobiology in order to improve our understanding of the earlier phase of migraine, encourage better studies and cross-disciplinary collaborations, and provide novel migraine-specific therapeutic opportunities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number147629
JournalBrain research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • Appetite
  • Glucose
  • Gut-brain
  • Metabolism
  • Migraine
  • Premonitory symptoms


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