Objectives.— Migraine is a risk factor for stroke in young women. Biomarker studies implicate endothelial activation as a possible mechanism. Emerging relationships of childhood adversity with migraine, and with inflammation, a component of endothelial activation, suggest that it may play a role in the migraine–stroke association. Our objective is to evaluate the relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), migraine, and vascular biomarker levels in premenopausal women.
Methods.— Vascular and metabolic biomarkers from women 18-50 years, including 125 with migraine (interictal) and 50 without migraine, were evaluated. An ACE questionnaire was later collected by mail (response rate 80.6%, 100 migraineurs, 41 controls).
Results.— Migraineurs and controls were demographically similar. Migraineurs reported adversity more commonly than controls (71% vs 46%, odds ratio [OR] = 1.53, 95% confidence interval 1.07-2.17). Average ACE scores were elevated in migraineurs as compared with controls (2.4 vs 0.76, P < .001). ACE scores correlated with headache frequency (0.37, P = .001) and younger age of headache onset (−0.22, P = .04). It also correlated with body mass index (r = 0.43, P = .0001), von Willebrand factor activity (r = 0.21, P = .009), tissue plasminogen activator antigen (r = 0.28, P = .004), prothrombin activation fragment (r = 0.36, P = .001), high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (r = 0.98, P = .0001), transforming growth factor-beta1 (r = 0.28, P = .003), tissue necrosis factor-alpha (r = 0.20, P = .03), interleukin-6 (r = 0.22, P = .03), adiponectin (r = −0.29, P = .003), and nitrate/nitrite concentration (r = −314, P = .001). Logistic regression analyses (adjusted for vascular risk factors and migraine) demonstrated an association of childhood adversity with inflammatory factors (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, and tissue necrosis factor-alpha).
Conclusions.— In young women, adverse childhood events are associated with migraine, particularly chronic and transformed migraine, and with vascular biomarkers, especially inflammatory biomarkers. These findings implicate early life stress as a link between migraine and endothelial activation.