Non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation (nVNS; gammaCore®) has the potential to prevent migraine days in patients with migraine on the basis of mechanistic rationale and pilot clinical data.
This multicentre study included a 4-week run-in period, a 12-week double-blind period of randomised treatment with nVNS or sham, and a 24-week open-label period of nVNS. Patients were to administer two 120-second stimulations bilaterally to the neck three times daily (6–8 hours apart).
Of 477 enrolled patients, 332 comprised the intent-to-treat (ITT) population. Mean reductions in migraine days per month (primary outcome) were 2.26 for nVNS (n = 165; baseline, 7.9 days) and 1.80 for sham (n = 167; baseline, 8.1 days) (p = 0.15). Results were similar across other outcomes. Upon observation of suboptimal adherence rates, post hoc analysis of patients with ≥ 67% adherence per month demonstrated significant differences between nVNS (n = 138) and sham (n = 140) for outcomes including reduction in migraine days (2.27 vs. 1.53; p = 0.043); therapeutic gains were greater in patients with aura than in those without aura. Most nVNS device-related adverse events were mild and transient, with application site discomfort being the most common.
Preventive nVNS treatment in episodic migraine was not superior to sham stimulation in the ITT population. The “sham” device inadvertently provided a level of active vagus nerve stimulation. Post hoc analysis showed significant effects of nVNS in treatment-adherent patients.
Study identification and registration: PREMIUM; NCT02378844; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02378844
- preventive therapy
- migrane prophylaxis
- non-pharmacologic treatment
- vagal activation