Date of Graduation

Spring 2015


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Paul Durham


migraine, secondary traumatic stress, trigeminal ganglion, hypervigilant, peripheral sensitization

Subject Categories



Migraine is a leading cause of pain and disability in the United States, especially among women. Migraineurs are characterized by a hyperexcitable or hypervigilant nervous system that during an attack, leads to hyperalgesia and allodynia. Sensitization and activation of peripheral trigeminal neurons that provide sensory innervation to most of the head and face is implicated in migraine pathology. The most commonly cited risk factor for migraine is stress, and in particular, primary traumatic stress directly to the individual. However, exposure to secondary traumatic stress early in life is reported to also be a significant risk factor for development of migraine. However, the cellular events that promote this pathological state are not well understood. Thus, the goal of my study was to determine the effects of secondary traumatic stress on trigeminal nociceptive neurons and the development of a hypervigilant nervous system. Male Sprague Dawley (sender) rats were subjected to forced swim testing (primary traumatic stress) and were co-housed with male and female Sprague Dawley (receiver) rats and their offspring. In response to secondary stress, I found that six proteins implicated in the development of peripheral sensitization were elevated in receiver rats in the trigeminal ganglion. Results from my study provide evidence that secondary traumatic stress promotes sustained peripheral sensitization and the development of a hyperexcitable state characteristic of migraine pathology.


© David Robert Miley

Campus Only