Clinical data
Trade namesErgomar, others
Other names2'-Methyl-5'α-benzyl-12'-hydroxy-3',6',18-trioxoergotaman; 9,10α-Dihydro-12'-hydroxy-2'-methyl-5'α-(phenylmethyl)ergotaman-3',6',18-trione
License data
Routes of
ATC code
Legal status
Legal status
Pharmacokinetic data
BioavailabilityIntravenous: 100%,[6]
Intramuscular: 47%,[7]
Oral: <1%[8] (Enhanced by co-administration of caffeine[6])
Elimination half-life2 hours[7]
Excretion90% Bile duct[7]
  • (6aR,9R)-N-((2R,5S,10aS,10bS)-5-Benzyl-10b-hydroxy-2-methyl-3,6-dioxooctahydro-2H-oxazolo[3,2-a]pyrrolo[2,1-c]pyrazin-2-yl)-7-methyl-4,6,6a,7,8,9-hexahydroindolo[4,3-fg]quinoline-9-carboxamide
CAS Number
PubChem CID
PDB ligand
CompTox Dashboard (EPA)
ECHA InfoCard100.003.658 Edit this at Wikidata
Chemical and physical data
Molar mass581.673 g·mol−1
3D model (JSmol)
  • C[C@@]1(C(=O)N2[C@H](C(=O)N3CCC[C@H]3[C@@]2(O1)O)CC4=CC=CC=C4)NC(=O)[C@H]5CN([C@@H]6CC7=CNC8=CC=CC(=C78)C6=C5)C
  • InChI=1S/C33H35N5O5/c1-32(35-29(39)21-15-23-22-10-6-11-24-28(22)20(17-34-24)16-25(23)36(2)18-21)31(41)38-26(14-19-8-4-3-5-9-19)30(40)37-13-7-12-27(37)33(38,42)43-32/h3-6,8-11,15,17,21,25-27,34,42H,7,12-14,16,18H2,1-2H3,(H,35,39)/t21-,25-,26+,27+,32-,33+/m1/s1 checkY
 ☒NcheckY (what is this?)  (verify)

Ergotamine, sold under the brand name Ergomar among others, is an ergopeptine and part of the ergot family of alkaloids; it is structurally and biochemically closely related to ergoline.[9] It is structurally similar to several neurotransmitters, and it acts as a vasoconstrictor. It is used for acute migraines, sometimes with caffeine as the combination ergotamine/caffeine.[10][11]

Medicinal use of ergot fungus began in the 16th century, for the induction of childbirth; but dosage uncertainty discouraged its use. It has been used to prevent post-partum hemorrhage (bleeding after childbirth). It was first isolated from the ergot fungus by Arthur Stoll, at Sandoz in 1918, and was marketed as Gynergen in 1921.[12]

Medical uses

Ergotamine is indicated as therapy to abort or prevent vascular headache.[2][13]


Ergotamine is available as a suppository and as a tablet, sometimes in combination with caffeine.[2][5][10][11]


Contraindications include: atherosclerosis, Buerger's syndrome, coronary artery disease, hepatic disease, pregnancy, pruritus, Raynaud's syndrome, and renal disease.[14] It's also contraindicated if patient is taking macrolide antibiotics (e.g., erythromycin), certain HIV protease inhibitors (e.g., ritonavir, nelfinavir, indinavir), certain azole antifungals (e.g., ketoconazole, itraconazole, voriconazole) delavirdine, efavirenz, or a 5-HT1 receptor agonist (e.g., sumatriptan).[15]

Side effects

Side effects of ergotamine include nausea and vomiting. At higher doses, it can cause raised arterial blood pressure, vasoconstriction (including coronary vasospasm) and bradycardia or tachycardia. Severe vasoconstriction may cause symptoms of intermittent claudication.[16][13]



Ergotamine interacts with serotonin, adrenergic, and dopamine receptors.[17][18] It is an agonist of serotonin receptors including the 5-HT1 and 5-HT2 subtypes.[17] Ergotamine is an agonist of the serotonin 5-HT2B receptor and has been associated with cardiac valvulopathy.[19] Despite acting as a potent 5-HT2A receptor agonist, ergotamine is said to be non-hallucinogenic similarly to lisuride.[20][21] This is thought to be due to functional selectivity at the 5-HT2A receptor.[20][21]

Activities of ergotamine at various sites[18][22][23][24][25]
Site Affinity (Ki/IC50 [nM]) Efficacy (Emax [%]) Action
5-HT1A 0.17–0.3 ? Full agonist
5-HT1B 0.3–4.7 ? Agonist
5-HT1D 0.3–6.0 ? Agonist
5-HT1E 19–840 ? ?
5-HT1F 170–171 ? ?
5-HT2A 0.64–0.97 ? Full agonist
5-HT2B 1.3–45 ? Partial agonist
5-HT2C 1.9–9.8 ? Partial agonist
5-HT3 >10,000
5-HT4 65 ? ?
5-HT5A 14 ? Agonist
5-HT5B 3.2–16 ? ?
5-HT6 12 ? ?
5-HT7 1,291 ? Agonist
α1A 15–>10,000
α1B 12–>10,000
α1D ? ? ?
α2A 106 ? ?
α2B 88 ? ?
α2C >10,000
β1 >10,000
β2 >10,000
D1 >10,000
D2 4.0–>10,000 Agonist
D3 3.2–>10,000
D4 12–>10,000
D5 170 ? ?
H1 >10,000
H2 >10,000
M1 862 ? ?
M2 911 ? ?
M3 >10,000
M4 >10,000
M5 >10,000
Notes: All receptors are human except 5-HT5A (mouse/rat) and 5-HT5B (mouse/rat—no human counterpart).[18] No affinity for histamine H1 or H2, cannabinoid CB1, GABA, glutamate, or nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, nor the monoamine transporters (all >10,000 nM).[18]


The bioavailability of ergotamine is around 2% orally, 6% rectally, and 100% by intramuscular or intravenous injection.[17] The low oral and rectal bioavailability is due to low gastrointestinal absorption and high first-pass metabolism.[17]


Ergotamine is a secondary metabolite (natural product) and the principal alkaloid produced by the ergot fungus, Claviceps purpurea, and related fungi in the family Clavicipitaceae.[26][unreliable medical source?] Its biosynthesis in these fungi requires the amino acid L-tryptophan and dimethylallyl pyrophosphate. These precursor compounds are the substrates for the enzyme, tryptophan dimethylallyltransferase, catalyzing the first step in ergot alkaloid biosynthesis, i.e., the prenylation of L-tryptophan. Further reactions, involving methyltransferase and oxygenase enzymes, yield the ergoline, lysergic acid. Lysergic acid (LA) is the substrate of lysergyl peptide synthetase, a nonribosomal peptide synthetase, which covalently links LA to the amino acids, L-alanine, L-proline, and L-phenylalanine. Enzyme-catalyzed or spontaneous cyclizations, oxygenations/oxidations, and isomerizations at selected residues precede, and give rise to, formation of ergotamine.[27]

Society and culture

Legal status

Ergotamine is a List I regulated chemical in the United States.[28]


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  3. ^ "Ergotamine (Ergomar) Use During Pregnancy". 6 May 2024. Retrieved 20 May 2024.
  4. ^ Anvisa (31 March 2023). "RDC Nº 784 - Listas de Substâncias Entorpecentes, Psicotrópicas, Precursoras e Outras sob Controle Especial" [Collegiate Board Resolution No. 784 - Lists of Narcotic, Psychotropic, Precursor, and Other Substances under Special Control] (in Brazilian Portuguese). Diário Oficial da União (published 4 April 2023). Archived from the original on 3 August 2023. Retrieved 15 August 2023.
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  8. ^ Ibraheem JJ, Paalzow L, Tfelt-Hansen P (December 1983). "Low bioavailability of ergotamine tartrate after oral and rectal administration in migraine sufferers". British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 16 (6): 695–699. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.1983.tb02243.x. PMC 1428366. PMID 6419759.
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  13. ^ a b Zajdel P, Bednarski M, Sapa J, Nowak G (April 2015). "Ergotamine and nicergoline - facts and myths". Pharmacological Reports. 67 (2): 360–363. doi:10.1016/j.pharep.2014.10.010. PMID 25712664. S2CID 22768662.
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