Blame your Chronic Migraine on Your Parents

June 28, 2012

If your parents drive you crazy, then you won’t be surprised to know that they can be the cause of your chronic migraines, too.  With many recent medical breakthroughs coming from the area of genetics, its not surprising that DNA may provide the key to unlocking some of the mysteries surrounding the causes and nature of migraines.  However, it appears that a genetics-based migraine treatment remains to be found in future research.

Leading European and Australian researchers from the International Headache Genetics Consortium performed the genome-wide association study, to identify possible propensity to migraine without auras, of more than 11,000 subjects.  They compared genomes of 7,800 migraine-free individuals with those of 4,000 migraine sufferers.  It’s estimated that about two-thirds of migraineurs have this migraine type.  Auras are neurological symptoms such as visual disturbances that precede the headaches.

The scientists identified two additional genes that support the theory of a link between blood vessels and blood flow to the onset of a migraine.  This was the third study identifying genes with a link to migraines, but the first dedicated to focusing on the cause of the most common subtype.  According to an article on Genome-Engineering, they confirmed 6 genetic variants in the following locations: identifying those in or near MEF2D, TGFBR2, PHACTR1 and ASTN2, and confirming mutations in or near TRPM8 and LRP1.

The research report was printed in the June 10, 2012 edition of the journal Nature Genetics.  “Studies of this kind are possible only through large-scale international collaboration — bringing together the wealth of data with the right expertise and resources. The identified genes open new doors to investigate how this type of migraine comes about,” said Dr. Arn van den Maagdenberg, one of the senior authors on the paper.

If you suffer with chronic migraines without aura, these latest findings offer a scientific explanation for what is not all in your head, but rather all in your genes!  However, until genetics can offer solutions for migraine treatments that provide relief for the debilitating symptoms, there are many pain management options available right now, supported by years of clinical research and medical advancements.  From non-interventional therapies such as lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter analgesics, to more interventional migraine surgical procedures, there are many choices, and finding the right one can put an end to chronic pain.

So, go easy on your parents, because whether or not genetics is to blame for your chronic migraines or not, they didn’t mean to pass along the migraine trait.

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