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悩みがある男
悩みがある男

頭痛と神経伝達物質セロトニンの関係

悩みがある男

頭痛のタイプのうち、偏頭痛に関してはその原因としてセロトニンが関与していると言われます。血小板中のセロトニンは、何らかの理由で分泌され、セロトニンの濃度が短時間で上下することで偏頭痛が生じるという考え方があります。これをセロトニン学説といいます。

セロトニン学説に立った場合には、血小板からセロトニンを分泌する理由が完全には判明していませんが、ひとつの可能性としては、ストレスがセロトニンの分泌に影響をするという考え方があります。

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セロトニンが関係する頭痛とは

頭痛の男

頭痛で悩まされている方は大変多いのではないでしょうか。頭痛は、生命に関わるような重大な病気の場合(例えば、脳腫瘍やくも膜下出血)に症状として現れることもありますが、一般的には「頭痛持ち」という言葉があるように、頭痛は一般的な病気・体質として知られています。

「頭痛持ち」と言ってもタイプは様々であり、一般的には偏頭痛、緊張型頭痛、群発頭痛などがあります。これらの3タイプの頭痛が「頭痛持ち」と呼ばれる際に指す一般的な頭痛のタイプということができます。このうち、緊張型頭痛は長時間の運転やパソコン操作などの筋肉のこわばりによって生じることが判明しています。

しかし、偏頭痛と群発頭痛については、現在でもその根本的な発生原因が完全には解明されてはいません。ただ、偏頭痛については、セロトニンという神経伝達物質が関与しているのではないかという考え方が次第に有力となってきています。つまり、セロトニンが関係する頭痛としては偏頭痛を挙げることができるということになります。

セロトニンと偏頭痛の関係

セロトニンは、私たちの体の中で作用している神経伝達の一種です。具体的には精神のリラックスを司る物質として有名です。セロトニンは一時期、マスコミや書籍などで「幸せホルモン」などと呼ばれ、有名になりました。このセロトニンが偏頭痛の発生に関与しているという考え方が広まっています。

即ち、第一段階として、血小板に含まれているセロトニンが何らかの刺激を受けて血小板から放出され、他の血小板を刺激します。放出されたセロトニンによって刺激された他の血小板はさらにセロトニンを放出し、この連鎖反応を繰り返し、一時的にセロトニンの量が増えます。その後、セロトニンの量が多くなりすぎたことから体がセロトニンを排出しようとして尿などの形で体外に排出されます。その結果血中セロトニン濃度が減少します。

セロトニンの減少は血管を拡張させて、ドクンドクンという痛みを伴う偏頭痛が生じるといわれます。このように偏頭痛の原因をセロトニンの量の増減に求める考え方をセロトニン学説といいます。最近では偏頭痛の原因としてセロトニン学説が有力となっています。
偏頭痛の原因としてはセロトニン学説以外には、三叉神経系血管説なども唱えられています。

しかし、セロトニン学説にしても、どのような理由で血小板が刺激されてセロトニンが分泌されるのかという点などまだまだ未解明の部分は多く、偏頭痛の原因は完全には解明されていないというのが現在の状況です。

セロトニンの分泌原因として考えられていること

このようにして、偏頭痛の原因としてセロトニンの濃度の変化が挙げられていますが、セロトニンを血小板から分泌する原因は一体何かという点についてはまだはっきりとはしていません。セロトニン分泌について、ひとつの可能性として挙げられているのは、ストレスや緊張です。

ストレスや緊張を意識的・無意識的に感じることで血小板からセロトニンが分泌されて血管の太さの変化が生じ、偏頭痛を生むという考え方です。一般にストレスが様々な体の変調をきたす原因となることは共通認識となっているばかりではなく、偏頭痛発作の事例でも事前に緊張を感じている場合などに偏頭痛発作が起きるという症例も多く挙げられていると言われます。

そのため、セロトニン学説が正しいと仮定した場合には、偏頭痛を抑えるためには、可能な限りストレスを溜めない生活をすることなどが重要となることとなります。もちろん、偏頭痛発症や予防のための薬剤も様々なものが薬局や医師の処方で手に入れることが可能ですので、ストレスを可能な限り受けないようにしながら、偏頭痛の発作の際には、薬物投与などで症状を抑えることが偏頭痛と「付き合っていく」ためのポイントということができます。

まとめ:偏頭痛とセロトニンのまとめ

以上、本文で述べました頭痛とセロトニンとの関係のポイントをまとめますと以下のようになります。

  • 頭痛のタイプうち、偏頭痛発症のひとつの原因として考えられているのがセロトニンの分泌量の変動です。血小板から排出されるセロトニンの濃度が急激に上下することで偏頭痛が生じるという考え方です。これをセロトニン学説といいます
  • セロトニン学説が偏頭痛の原因として正しいものと仮定しても、セロトニンがどのような理由・原因で血小板から排出されるかはまだはっきりとはしていません。ひとつの考え方としてストレスや緊張がセロトニンの分泌を促すと言われています

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