New Genetic Risk Factors for Migraine Revealed

New Genetic Risk Factors for Migraine Revealed

A migraine is a very strong headache that can cause serious throbbing pain. It is commonly accompanied by vomiting, sickness, and intense sensitivity to light and sound. It can continue for a couple of days, and it can impact a person’s capacity for work.

The reason why migraine occurs is not yet discovered. However, scientists believe that genes increase the risk of developing this condition by up to 60%. More than often, some people who suffer from it experience auras, a type of optical and bodily disturbances. Still, it is debatable whether the two types of migraine, with aura (MA) or without aura (MO), are genetically similar.

A research team conducted a large new study and discovered 86 new genetic regions — called loci — that are linked to migraine. It was also found that some loci are characteristic only for MA, others only for MO. However, most genetic risk factors are shared between the two types. Therefore, further research should investigate the risk loci. Theoretically, genetic data may determine targets for medication to ease certain symptoms that are left untreated at the moment. Apart from giving genetic information, this study reaffirmed that migraine could be caused by neural and vascular changes combined.

Women experience migraine three times more than men. By far, this is the largest genome-wide association study that encourages a more detailed knowledge about migraine and lays the foundation for customized pharmacotherapy. This kind of study involves data from the genomes of individuals who suffer from a specific condition and makes a comparison to the genomes of those who have not developed that condition yet. Notably, this type of approach can identify genetic changes associated with specific indications of the disease.

Nevertheless, this study has several shortfalls. For instance, the research team pointed out that most migraine cases are self-diagnosed, and there is a great chance for an incorrect diagnosis. Moreover, to better understand the genetic similarity of the subtypes of this condition, further research should focus on larger sample sizes.

Photo by Carolina Heza on Unsplash

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