Scientists Discover 3 Genes Linked to Migraines

Posted on Aug 15, 2011 in Health & Wellness

Scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have discovered a trio of genes tied to migraine headaches, one in which the link is exclusive to women, according to a study published on Sunday.

More than 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from migraines with women most commonly affected.

Scientists describe migraine as a brain disorder in which neurons, or brain cells, respond abnormally to stimuli.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have put together a genome-wide association study that involved 23,230 women, 5,122 of whom suffered from migraines, agencies reported.

According to the National Genome Research Institute, this type of study is “an approach that involves rapidly scanning markers across the complete sets of DNA, or genomes, of many people to find genetic variations associated with a particular disease.”

The study, published in the British journal Nature Genetics on Sunday found variations in three genes that showed up more frequently in women migraine patients. Two of the genes – PRDM16 and TRPM8 – were specific to migraines, and TRPM8 was linked to
migraines only in women.

The third gene, LRP1, is involved in “sensing the external world and in chemical pathways inside the brain.”

“The brain of a person with migraine responds differently to certain stimuli, their nerve cells ‘talk’ differently to each other,” Dr. Markus Schuerks of Brigham and Women’s told Fox News in an email. “Many neurotransmitters are involved in this cross-talk and some
seem to have a special role in migraines. LRP1 interacts with some of these neurotransmitter pathways and may thus modulate nerve responses that promote or suppress migraine attacks.”