The aim of this pilot study was to analyze the serum proteomic profile of women suffering from menstrual-related migraine (MM group, n = 15) and migraine in post-menopause (PM group, n = 15) in comparison with non-headache control females (C group, n = 15). Serum samples were subjected to two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE) followed by mass spectrometry (MS) analysis for protein identification. Based on 2D-gel maps and PDQuest 2-D software, 13 differentially expressed spots, corresponding to 12 unique proteins identified by Liquid Chromatography-Electrospray Ionization-Quadrupole-Time of Flight/tandem mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-QToF-MS/MS), were detected in the MM and PM groups vs C group. Five inflammatory and regulatory of vascular integrity proteins (prothrombin, serum amyloid P-component, Ig kappa chain C region, apolipoprotein A-I, serum amyloid A-4 protein) were found deregulated in both MM and PM groups compared to C group; MM group showed the upregulation of other inflammatory protein fragments (inter-alpha-trypsin inhibitor heavy chain H4 and complement C4-A) compared to C group; PM group, in comparison with C group, displayed a noteworthy upregulation of transthyretin and other deregulated proteins (tetranectin, alpha-1-antitrypsin, haptoglobin, apolipoprotein A-IV) playing a role in anti-inflammatory and reparative processes. In conclusion, proteomic analysis was able to reveal differences in protein expression between migraine sufferers and non-headache women; as in other neurological diseases characterized by neuroinflammation, the serum proteome of migraine women presents an abundance of proteins indicative of cellular damage, oxidative stress and inflammation. This relevant inflammatory status, if confirmed in larger series, could represent a target for menstrual-related migraine treatment.
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