Migraine Quiz

New migraine gene found

First genetic key to migraine without aura

Research recently reported by the International Headache Genetics Consortium announces the first genetic link for migraine without aura. An initial study compared the genomes of 3000 migraine sufferers from Finland, Germany, and The Netherlands against about 10,000 non-migraine controls in what is known as a genome-wide association study. These first results were confirmed in a broader study comparing the genomes of a second group of 3000 migraine sufferers against about 40,000 non-migraine controls.

The variant area of DNA, called rs1835740, is on chromosome 8, and is between two genes identified as PGCP and MTDH/AEG-1.   The PGCP region of chromosome 8 is a complex area. MTDH/AEG-1 regulates the activity of the EAA2 gene. The EAAT2 gene is a glutamate transporter gene affected by this genetic region that controls the clearance of glutamate from brain synapses. Glutamate is widespread in the brain, and the EEA2 gene has been implicated in other disorders, such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, anxiety, and mood disorders.

Further study is necessary. The patients studied for this report of a migraine gene were recruited from specialty headache clinics, and thus represent a more severe population of migraine sufferers. These results need to be replicated across broader population. Although the majority of these migraine sufferers had migraine with aura, some migraine without aura patients were also represented, and this is the first clear genetic link found for this disorder.

It is also likely that this is not the only gene involved in migraine. It is, nevertheless, an exciting step forward in our understanding of migraine.

Oh, and no--there is no genetic test clinically available yet, so please don't call your doctor to ask--at least, not this week. That'll take a little bit longer to roll out.