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Researchers uncover genetic links about migraine

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Genetic links about migraine

Migraine is an intense headache, which can last from several hours to several days (3 days). When a person has a migraine, he or she can no longer perform daily activities. No one knows why some people are more prone to migraine than others, but there seems to be a familial aggregation. Now researchers at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have discovered for the first time that in the onset of migraine are involved five genetic regions.

In the largest study on migraine, researchers have tried to identify what are the mechanisms underlying the susceptibility to migraine. They found 12 genetic regions: 8 of them appear to be involved in the control circuits in the brain and two of these regions appear to be associated with maintaining brain health. It seems that genetic susceptibility to migraine depends on these pathways. In fact, it seems that there are also other regions involved as researchers found  more than 130 genetic regions implied in susceptibility to migraine but without statistical significance.

Statistics show that 14% of people suffer from migraine, moreover the Global Burden of Disease Survey 2010 points out that migraine is responsible for the highest costs among neurological disorders. Migraine is a condition difficult to study because there are no some specific biomarkers in patients suffering from migraine.



Dr Aarno Palotie, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said that this study gave very useful information about the cause of migraine.  Dr. Palotie added that migraine and epilepsy are two neurological conditions extremely difficult to investigate biochemically because the patient is perfectly healthy between crisis. “The molecular mechanisms of migraine are poorly understood. The sequence variants uncovered through this meta-analysis could become a foothold for further studies to better understanding the pathophysiology of migraine” Dr Kári Stefánsson, President of deCODE genetics, points out.

To get to discover the genetic regions underlying migraine, researchers used more than 100 000 samples from both migraine patients and patients without migraine. What they did was to compare the results from 29 different genomic studies and found that these susceptibility regions are connected with a network of genes that are involved in oxidative stress. It is possible that genes in these genomic regions to be interconnected and to interfere with the internal control of brain circuits. Dr Mark Daly, from the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, said that this approach is the most effective way to understand the biology of these neurological disorders.