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By K K Jain MD

Triptans, selective serotonin receptor (5-HT) agonists, are used in the treatment of acute migraine attacks as well as non-migraine headaches. In this clinical article, Dr. K K Jain describes the pharmacology of triptans and compares 7 approved triptans: almotriptan, eletriptan, frovatriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, sumatriptan, and zolmitriptan. Clinical trials of triptans and personalized treatment of migraine with triptans are also described.

Key points

  • Triptans are selective serotonin receptor agonists used in the treatment of acute migraine attacks.
  • The beneficial effect of triptans in migraine is related to their multiple mechanisms of action at sites implicated in the pathophysiology of migraine, eg, vasoconstriction.
  • Several triptans with different methods of delivery are available.
  • It may be possible to match individual patient needs with the specific characteristics of the individual triptans to optimize therapeutic benefit.