Pseudomigraine With Lymphocytic Pleocytosis: A Calcium Channelopathy? Clinical Description of 10 Cases and Genetic Analysis of the Familial Hemiplegic Migraine Gene CACNA1A

Authors


Address all correspondence to Dr. Siân Spacey, Neurology and Neurogenetics, Room S-127, 2211 Wesbrook Mall, UBC Hospital, Vancouver, BC V6T 2B5, Canada.

Abstract

Objective.—To report the clinical findings of 10 patients diagnosed with pseudomigraine with lymphocytic pleocytosis and the results of mutational analysis of the CACNA1A gene in 8 of these patients.

Background.—Pseudomigraine with lymphocytic pleocytosis, also referred to as headache with neurologic deficits and cerebrospinal fluid lymphocytosis (HaNDL), is characterized by episodic transient neurologic dysfunction associated with moderate to severe headache and cerebrospinal fluid lymphocytic pleocytosis. Episodes are recurrent and the condition is self-limiting. The etiology of this sporadic condition remains unknown, but the episodic nature and its ability to be triggered by angiography is somewhat reminiscent of the phenotypic features of familial hemiplegic migraine, a condition caused by mutations in the CACNA1A gene.

Design/Methods.—Utilizing retrospective chart review, we describe the clinical features of pseudomigraine with lymphocytic pleocytosis in 10 patients. Whole blood was taken from 8 patients (2 were lost to follow-up) and used for DNA testing. The CACNA1A gene was screened for mutations using heteroduplex analysis and direct DNA sequencing.

Results.—Clinical features of pseudomigraine with lymphocytic pleocytosis included transient episodes of weakness, sensory and visual symptoms, aphasia, and confusion lasting minutes up to 4 hours. Sensory symptoms, typically affecting the face and arm, were the most common presentation. Localization of symptoms did not conform to vascular territories. Headache was typically throbbing and most often bilateral. Genetic analysis did not identify any mutations in the CACNA1A gene.

Conclusions.—Similarities between familial hemiplegic migraine and pseudomigraine with lymphocytic pleocytosis include recurrent headache with reversible neurologic deficit, cerebrospinal fluid lymphocytic pleocytosis, and triggers such as angiography. Even so, heteroduplex analysis and DNA sequencing failed to identify any sporadic mutations or shared polymorphisms in the exons or the intron/exon boundaries of the CACNA1A gene. These results do not support a role of the CACNA1A gene in the etiology of pseudomigraine with lymphocytic pleocytosis.

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