Aminergic Tone Correlates of Migraine and Tension-type Headache: A Study Using the Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire

Authors

  • V. Di Piero PhD,

    1. From the Centro Interuniversitario per lo Studio delle Cefalee e dei Disordini Neurotrasmettitoriali del Sistema Nervoso, Rome, Italy.
    2. Sezione di Roma, Rome, Italy.
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  • G. Bruti MD,

    1. From the Centro Interuniversitario per lo Studio delle Cefalee e dei Disordini Neurotrasmettitoriali del Sistema Nervoso, Rome, Italy.
    2. Sezione di Roma, Rome, Italy.
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  • P. Venturi MD,

    1. From the Centro Interuniversitario per lo Studio delle Cefalee e dei Disordini Neurotrasmettitoriali del Sistema Nervoso, Rome, Italy.
    2. Dipartimento di Scienze Psichiatriche e Medicina Psicologica, III Clinica Psichiatrica, Universita La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.
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  • F. Talamonti MD,

    1. From the Centro Interuniversitario per lo Studio delle Cefalee e dei Disordini Neurotrasmettitoriali del Sistema Nervoso, Rome, Italy.
    2. Dipartimento di Scienze Psichiatriche e Medicina Psicologica, III Clinica Psichiatrica, Universita La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.
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  • M. Biondi MD,

    1. From the Centro Interuniversitario per lo Studio delle Cefalee e dei Disordini Neurotrasmettitoriali del Sistema Nervoso, Rome, Italy.
    2. Dipartimento di Scienze Psichiatriche e Medicina Psicologica, III Clinica Psichiatrica, Universita La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.
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  • S. Di Legge MD,

    1. From the Centro Interuniversitario per lo Studio delle Cefalee e dei Disordini Neurotrasmettitoriali del Sistema Nervoso, Rome, Italy.
    2. Sezione di Roma, Rome, Italy.
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  • G.L. Lenzi MD

    1. From the Centro Interuniversitario per lo Studio delle Cefalee e dei Disordini Neurotrasmettitoriali del Sistema Nervoso, Rome, Italy.
    2. Sezione di Roma, Rome, Italy.
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Address all correspondence to Dr. Vittorio Di Piero, Department of Neurological Sciences, University of Rome La Sapienza, Viale dell'Università 30, 00185 Rome, Italy.

Abstract

Background.—Aminergic neurotransmitter activity has been studied in many neuropsychiatric diseases by means of a self-administered questionnaire proposed by Cloninger. Given that central aminergic modulation plays a major role in the pathophysiology of primary headaches, we investigated the personality dimensions related to aminergic neurotransmitter activity in patients with migraine and tension-type headache.

Methods.—From a consecutive series of 230 patients, we selected those presenting with migraine and tension-type headache according to the International Headache Society criteria. All patients were assessed by means of the Cloninger 100-item self-report Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire and a depression scale. The four dimensions of personality are novelty seeking (dopaminergic), harm avoidance (serotonergic), reward dependence (noradrenergic), and persistence (glutaminergic).

Results.—One hundred twenty-one patients presenting with migraine and 42 with tension-type headache were recruited. The results indicate significantly higher harm avoidance scores (P<.001) in both patients with migraine and those with tension-type headache than in controls. Furthermore, patients with migraine had a significantly low score in the novelty seeking dimension (P<.001). When we compared only the two groups of patients with headache, we found that the persistence dimension alone was significantly higher in patients with migraine than in those with tension-type headache (P<.05). No differences were observed either in the overall scores of the other personality dimensions or in the depression scale scores.

Conclusions.—The Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire results support a role of the serotonergic system in both migraine and tension-type headache pathophysiology. A dysfunction of dopaminergic and glutaminergic tone seems to be a specific feature of migraine.

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