Date of Graduation

Summer 2018


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Paul Durham


stress, microbiota, nociception, trigeminal, bone broth, migraine

Subject Categories

Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Environmental Microbiology and Microbial Ecology | Neurology | Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences


Early life stress is considered a risk factor for development of migraine, which is a prevalent painful neurological disorder involving sensitization and activation of trigeminal neurons, and irritable bowel syndrome, a condition often comorbid with chronic migraine. The focus of my study was to determine the effects of early life stress and dietary inclusion of enriched chicken bone broth on trigeminal nociceptor sensitization and the gut microbiota. Adult Sprague-Dawley male “sender” rats subjected to primary traumatic stress were placed next to breeding or pregnant female rats that served as “receiver” rats (secondary traumatic stress) and in proximity to the offspring after weaning. Unstressed and stressed young adult offspring were tested for changes in basal nocifensive response to mechanical stimulation and following exposure to a reported migraine trigger, the pungent odor from an extract of the California bay leaf. Early life stress increased basal trigeminal nocifensive responses in females and promoted a persistent sensitized state of trigeminal nociceptors that were activated by the pungent odor in both sexes. Female animals exhibited a greater level of basal sensitivity and enhanced activation when compared to males. Gender differences were also observed in fecal and cecum microbiota at the genus level between naïve and stressed rats. Dietary inclusion of bone broth at the time of weaning was sufficient to inhibit basal and triggered nociception. In summary, my findings support the notion that early life stress promotes a sensitized trigeminal system associated with increased risk of migraine, and dietary supplementation with chicken bone broth may provide an effective non-pharmacological method for reducing migraine risk.


© Orion Peterson

Open Access