• migraine;
  • telomere length;
  • aging;
  • telomere

(Headache 2010;50:965-972)

Objective.— To evaluate relative telomere length of female migraine patients.

Background.— Migraine is a debilitating disorder affecting 6-28% of the population. Studies on the mechanisms of migraine have demonstrated genetic causes but the pathophysiology and subcellular effects of the disease remain poorly understood. Shortened telomere length is associated with age-related or chronic diseases, and induced stresses. Migraine attacks may impart significant stress on cellular function, thus this study investigates a correlation between shortening of telomeres and migraine.

Methods.— Relative telomere length was measured using a previously described quantitative polymerase chain reaction method. A regression analysis was performed to assess differences in mean relative telomere length between migraine patients and healthy controls.

Results.— The leukocyte telomeres of a cohort of 142 Caucasian female migraine subjects aged 18-77 years and 143 matched 17-77-year-old healthy control Caucasian women were examined. A significantly shorter relative telomere length was observed in the migraine group compared with the control group after adjusting for age and body mass index (P = .001). In addition, age of onset was observed to associate with the loss of relative telomere length, especially at early age of onset (<17 years old). No association was observed between relative telomere length and the severity and frequency of migraine attacks and the duration of migraine.

Conclusion.— Telomeres are shorter in migraine patients and there is more variation in telomere length in migraine patients.