Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Genetic Foundation of Migraines

On May 3rd, a study in the journal Neuron was published on research of why some families are more susceptible to getting migraines and how genetics could influence which type of migraine someone would get. There is two possible ways that migraines were thought to be inherited which is through linkage or polygenic inheritance. Linkage, or the passing down of chromosomes from parent to child, have three genes associated, CACNA1A, ATP1A2, and SCN1A.

The scientists believed that these types of genes control the severe migraines that show stroke like symptoms and fall under the Mendelian model for inheritance. For polygenic inheritance, it carries the idea that a group of genes collectively contribute that characteristic even if each gene only contributes a tiny amount. 

For the research, the scientists created a polygenic risk score which estimated the genetic burden of common variants. They gathered data from a previous genome association wide study. Hundreds and thousands of loci that were linked to migraines were incorporated. Researchers then tested the influence of the risk score and the three mendelian linked genes with a large family of migraine sufferers in Finland. They used genetic data of 1589 families compared them to a control family.  The researchers found out that time and time again results proved that the polygenic common variants were driving migraine risk way more than the mendelian traits. The end result was that it was more likely the person with the migraine has a greater genetic burden of common polygenic variants to blame. 

I believe this research is a good start with good findings to a problem that 15-20% of adults go through. If we can continue to build on research and find out what biological pathways the genes affect than we can find a better solution to a problem that almost a quarter of adults face on a daily basis. 


  1. I am one of those people that suffers from migraines so this was very intriguing for me to read. A better alternative to aspirin is definitely necessary because of all the harm taking aspirin over a prolonged period of time could do to one's body. I really hope research on this continues and progress is made sooner rather than later in discovering the biological pathway of migraines.

  2. Unfortunately, migraines are a problem for many individuals. Investigating their mode of inheritance may be useful for researchers. Both linkage and polygenic inheritance pose different challenges. Understanding the genetic component of migraines may allow for the development of new medications that prevent or stop migraine symptoms.

  3. Having a migraine its probably one of the worst pains that a human can suffer. Sometimes not even pain relievers help. I think it would be very beneficial for many of us to find out what is the root of this problem in humans in order to find a solution. This throbbing of the head its impossible to ignore, especially because many of the times it does not come alone, it comes with nausea as well. Hopefully this research keeps going.