Scientists identify genes linked to migraine
Researchers have identified three genes linked to migraine headache and found that people who inherit any one of these genes have a 10 to 15 percent higher risk for the condition.
Migraine headache is a common, heterogeneous and heritable neurological disorder. It is an abnormality in the response of nerve cells to stimuli and is characterised by recurring severe headaches, which often result in nausea as well as sensitivity to light and sound. Its underlying mechanism is incompletely understood, and its genetic influences at the population level are unknown. It has been thought for a long time that migraine is most commonly a multi-genetic condition with potentially many genetic variations that contribute. Current understanding indicates that migraine is a condition characterized by disordered sensory processing.
In examining genetic data from more than 23,000 women, including over 5,000 migraine sufferers, the researchers found an association between the headaches and variations in three genes: TRPM8 (which plays a role in sensitivity to cold and pain), LRP1 (a gene involved in the transmission of signals between neurons) and PRDM16. None of the three associations was, however, preferential for migraine with aura or without aura, nor were any association specific for migraine features. Inheriting any one of the three gene variants raised risk for severe headaches by 10 to 15 percent.
While migraine remains incompletely understood and its underlying causes difficult to pin down, identifying these three genetic variants helps shed light on the biological roots for this common and debilitating condition.
Although the findings of this study are encouraging, more research is needed to better understand exactly how each of these three genes is associated with migraine.
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