Dopamine Receptor Genes and Migraine With and Without Aura: An Association Study


Address all correspondence to Dr. Lyn Griffiths, Genomic Research Centre, Griffith University, Parklands Drive, Southport, Queensland, Australia 4217.


Objective.—To investigate the role of the dopamine receptor genes, DRD1, DRD3, and DRD5 in the pathogenesis of migraine.

Background.—Migraine is a chronic debilitating disorder affecting approximately 12% of the white population. The disease shows strong familial aggregation and presumably has a genetic basis, but at present, the type and number of genes involved is unclear. The study of candidate genes can prove useful in the identification of genes involved in complex diseases such as migraine, especially if the contribution of the gene to phenotypic expression is minor. Genes coding for proteins involved in dopamine metabolism have been implicated in a number of neurologic conditions and may play a contributory role in migraine. Hence, genes that code for enzymes and receptors modulating dopaminergic activity are good candidates for investigation of the molecular genetic basis of migraine.

Methods.—We tested 275 migraineurs and 275 age- and sex-matched individuals free of migraine. Genotypic results were determined by restriction endonuclease digestion of polymerase chain reaction products to detect DRD1 and DRD3 alleles and by Genescan analysis after polymerase chain reaction using fluorescently labelled oligonucleotide primers for the DRD5 marker.

Results.—Results of chi-square statistical analyses indicated that the allele distribution for migraine cases compared to controls was not significantly different for any of the three tested gene markers (χ2  =  0.1, P  =  .74 for DRD1; χ2  =  1.8, P  =  .18 for DRD3; and χ2  =  20.3, P  =  .08 for DRD5).

Conclusions.—These findings offer no evidence for allelic association between the tested dopamine receptor gene polymorphisms and the more prevalent forms of migraine and, therefore, do not support a role for these genes in the pathogenesis of the disorder.