Introduction: The introduction of the triptans (5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)1B/1D receptor agonists) was a great improvement in the acute treatment of migraine. However, shortcomings of the triptans have prompted research on novel serotonergic targets for the treatment of migraine. Areas covered: In this review the different types of antimigraine drugs acting at 5-HT receptors, their discovery and development are discussed. The first specific antimigraine drugs were the ergot alkaloids, consisting of ergotamine, dihydroergotamine and methysergide, which are agonists at 5-HT receptors, but can also bind α-adrenoceptors and dopamine receptors. In the 1990s, the triptans became available on the market. They are 5-HT1B/1D receptor agonists, showing fewer side effects due to their receptor specificity. In the last years, compounds that bind specifically to 5-HT1D, 5-HT1F and 5-HT7 receptors have been explored for their antimigraine potential. Furthermore, the serotonergic system seems to act in tight connection with the glutamatergic as well as the CGRP-ergic systems, which may open novel therapeutic avenues. Expert opinion: Although the triptans are very effective in treating migraine attacks, their shortcomings have stimulated the search for novel drugs. Currently, the focus is on 5-HT1F receptor agonists, which seem devoid of vascular side effects. Moreover, novel compounds that affect multiple transmitter and/or neuropeptide systems that are involved in migraine could be of therapeutic relevance.

5-HT, 5-HT receptor, Antimigraine drugs, Migraine, Sumatriptan, Triptan,
Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy
Department of Internal Medicine

Ramírez-Rosas, M.B, Labruijere, S, Villalon, C.M, & Maassen van den Brink, A. (2013). Activation of 5-hydroxytryptamine1B/1D/1F receptors as a mechanism of action of antimigraine drugs. Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy (Vol. 14, pp. 1599–1610). doi:10.1517/14656566.2013.806487