The Journal of clinical investigation
2021 Nov 01;131(21):e142203.
doi: 10.1172/JCI142203.

Oana CheverSarah ZerimechPaolo ScalmaniLouisiane LemaireLara PizzamiglioAlexandre LoucifMarion AyraultMartin KrupaMathieu DesrochesFabrice DupratIsabelle LénaSandrine CestèleMassimo Mantegazza


Spreading depolarizations (SDs) are involved in migraine, epilepsy, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and subarachnoid hemorrhage. However, the cellular origin and specific differential mechanisms are not clear. Increased glutamatergic activity is thought to be the key factor for generating cortical spreading depression (CSD), a pathological mechanism of migraine. Here, we show that acute pharmacological activation of NaV1.1 (the main Na+ channel of interneurons) or optogenetic-induced hyperactivity of GABAergic interneurons is sufficient to ignite CSD in the neocortex by spiking-generated extracellular K+ build-up. Neither GABAergic nor glutamatergic synaptic transmission were required for CSD initiation. CSD was not generated in other brain areas, suggesting that this is a neocortex-specific mechanism of CSD initiation. Gain-of-function mutations of NaV1.1 (SCN1A) cause familial hemiplegic migraine type-3 (FHM3), a subtype of migraine with aura, of which CSD is the neurophysiological correlate. Our results provide the mechanism linking NaV1.1 gain of function to CSD generation in FHM3. Thus, we reveal the key role of hyperactivity of GABAergic interneurons in a mechanism of CSD initiation, which is relevant as a pathological mechanism of Nav1.1 FHM3 mutations, and possibly also for other types of migraine and diseases in which SDs are involved.

Keywords: Genetic diseases; Neurological disorders; Neuroscience; Sodium channels.

Initiation of migraine-related cortical spreading depolarization by hyperactivity of GABAergic neurons and NaV1.1 channels