Exercise suppresses COX-2 pro-inflammatory pathway in vestibular migraine

Yi Yen Lee, Yi Ping Yang, Pin I. Huang, Wen Cheng Li, Ming Chao Huang, Chung Lan Kao, Yann Jang Chen, Ming Teh Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Migraine and dizziness are relatively common disorders. Patients with dizziness have a higher incidence of migraines than the general population. The discomfort experienced by these patients is often poorly controlled by medication. However, the pathophysiology of vestibular migraine (VM) remains unclear. We hypothesized that patients with VM would experience remission from symptoms after exercise training and that this effect may be mediated through the suppression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2)-mediated inflammation. Thus, the aim of the present study was to investigate the efficacy and possible anti-inflammatory benefits of exercise in patients with VM. We assessed the level of soluble inflammatory mediators in plasma from VM patients and control subjects. Our analysis of cytokine expression in the patients with VM undergoing exercise treatment revealed a significant reduction in pro-inflammatory cytokines and/or cytotoxic factors, such as tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukins, nitric oxide (NO), inducible NO synthase, and reactive oxygen species. In contrast, we found an increase in the level of anti-inflammatory cytokines after exercise. Moreover, the group undergoing exercise training showed significant symptomatic improvement and demonstrated suppressed antioxidant enzyme activity. To summarize, our data suggest that exercise significantly inhibits COX-2 activity, leading to the suppression of pro-inflammatory cytokines and changes in redox status. These results suggest that there is a molecular link between the central nervous system and the immune system. Furthermore, elucidation of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying VM could potentially lead to the development of novel therapeutic interventions for these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-105
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2015


  • Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2)
  • Exercise
  • Migraine
  • Vestibular


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