Researchers produce new insights into what triggers migraines.
The researchers, who looked at the genetic make up of more than 50,000 people, have produced new insights into what triggers the attacks and they hope they will open the door to new treatments and drugs preventions.
Although researchers have in the past described genetic mutations giving rise to rare and extreme forms of migraine, this is the first time a team has identified a genetic variant giving rise to the common form of the condition.
The international team found that patients with a particular DNA variant between two genes on Chromosome 8 – PGCP and MTDH/AEG-1 – have a significantly greater risk for developing migraine.
The results suggest that an accumulation of a chemical known as glutamate in nerve cell connections in the brain may play a key role in the initiation of migraine attacks.
The team found that patients with a particular DNA variant on Chromosome 8 have a significantly greater risk for developing migraine.
Prevention of the build up of glutamate may provide a promising target for new treatments to ease the burden of the disease.
Migraine affects approximately one in six women and one in twelve men, and has been estimated to be the most expensive brain disorder to society in the EU and US.
A US report measures its economic costs – mainly from time lost at work – as similar to those of diabetes and WHO lists it as one of the top 20 diseases with years lived with disability (YLDs).
“This is the first time we have been able to peer into the genomes of many thousands of people and find genetic clues to understand common migraine,” said Dr Aarno Palotie, chair of the International Headache Genetics Consortium at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, which spearheaded the study.
“This discovery opens new doors to understand common human diseases.”
The team compared the genomes of more than 3,000 people from Finland, Germany and The Netherlands with migraine with the genomes of more than 10,000 who did not suffer from them.
To confirm their link, the team compared the genomes of a second group of more than 3,000 patients with more than 40,000 apparently healthy people.
The findings were published in the journal Nature Genetics.