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Genetic Influence in Headaches: A Swedish Twin Study


Dr. Bo Larsson, Centre for Caring Sciences, Glunten, Uppsala University, S-751 83 Uppsala, Sweden.


The heritability of liability to self-reported migraine and nonmigrainous headaches was examined in two large cohorts from the Swedish Twin Registry consisting of 6448 (the older cohort) and 12 884 (the younger cohort) like-sexed twin pairs. Higher concordance rates were consistently found for lifetime migraine among the monozygotic twins than in the dizygotic twins, as well as for migraine headaches of the recurrent disabling type. In addition, a higher concordance rate was found among the monozygotic twins than in dizygotic twins in a "mixed" group of possible tension-type or mild migraine headaches (or both). The results of structural equation model-fitting analyses showed that genetic effects for migraine headaches were stronger for the females (estimates ranging from 49% to 58%) than for the males (39% to 44%) in the two cohorts. Unique nonshared environmental effects were greatest for the “mixed” group in both sexes (estimates ranging from 60% to 69%). The results are discussed in view of similar large-scale twin studies examining the heritability of liability to migraine.