Update on the Genetics of Migraine

Authors

  • Kathleen Ries Merikangas PhD

    Corresponding author
    1. From the Genetic Epidemiology Research Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.
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K.R. Merikangas, Genetic Epidemiology Research Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, 35 Convent Drive, MSC3720, Bethesda, MD 20892-3720, USA.

Abstract

Genetics and Headache: The Role of the MTHFR Gene in Migraine

Stuart S, Cox H, Lea R, Griffiths L.

Migraine is a common neurological disorder and is characterized by debilitating head pain and an assortment of additional symptoms which can include nausea, emesis, photophobia, phonophobia, and occasionally, visual sensory disturbances. A number of genes have been implicated in the pathogenesis of this disease, including genes involved in regulating the vascular system. Of particular importance are the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene (MTHFR) and the role it plays in migraine with aura. Migraine with aura has previously been shown to have a significant comorbidity with stroke, making the vascular class of genes a priority for migraine studies. In this report, we outline the importance of the MTHFR gene in migraine and also discuss the use of a genetic isolate to investigate MTHFR genetic variants. From this study, 3 MTHFR single nucleotide polymorphisms showing association with migraine in the Norfolk Island population have been identified, thus reinforcing the potential role of MTHFR in migraine susceptibility. Further studies will continue to build a gene profile of variants involved in the complex disease migraine and improve understanding of the underlying genetic causes of this disorder.

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