Date of Graduation

Spring 2015


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Paul Durham


migraine, secondary traumatic stress, trigeminal, hypervigilance, sensitization

Subject Categories



Migraine is one of the most prevalent pain disorders in the United States especially among women and is characterized by a hypervigilant nervous system involving peripheral and central sensitization of trigeminal nociceptive nerves. Since migraine is often comorbid with temporomandibular joint disorder and inflammatory bowel disease, it is associated with significant social and economic burdens. Primary traumatic stress is a significant risk factor for the development of trigeminal nerve sensitization, which is associated with a higher risk for migraine. However, little research has been done to investigate the effects of secondary traumatic stress on the trigeminal system. The goal of my study was to determine the cellular changes within the spinal trigeminal nucleus mediated by secondary traumatic stress and the development of a hypervigilant nervous system. Male Sprague Dawley rats (sender) were subjected to forced swim testing (primary traumatic stress) and were co-housed with pregnant female Sprague Dawley (receiver) rats and their offspring. The F1 generation of receiver rats showed elevated levels of eleven proteins, implicated in the development of central sensitization, in the spinal trigeminal nucleus in response to secondary traumatic stress. In conclusion, my findings provide evidence that secondary traumatic stress promotes central sensitization and the development of a hypervigilant nervous system and thus, helps to explain why it is an important risk factor for migraine and other orofacial pain conditions.


© Nicholas Jay Moore

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