Advance in genetics of migraine
Purpose of review: Migraine is a primary headache disorder and one of the most common and disabling neurological diseases worldwide. Genome-wide association studies have identified ≈40 genetic loci associated with migraine. How these and other genetic findings are used to expand our knowledge on the pathophysiological mechanism of common migraine and rare migraine variants will be discussed.
Recent findings: The genetic load, based on common polygenic variation, is higher in familial migraine cases than in nonfamilial cases, and higher for migraine with aura and hemiplegic migraine. Migraine shares common genetic variant risks with depression. Specific clinical features of common migraine seem to be determined by genetic factors. A stronger family history of migraine is associated with lower age-at-onset, higher frequency and number of medication days and the migraine with aura subtype. Mild hemiplegic migraine is likely caused by complex polygenic interaction of multiple gene variants and environmental factors, like in common migraine subtypes. Phenotypical features in hemiplegic migraine patients may guide physicians in providing adequate genetic counseling.
Summary: Integration of genetic, phenotypic and epigenetic data will help to identify the biological mechanisms by which genetic factors contribute to migraine pathogenesis. Recent studies show the impact of genetics on clinical features and comorbidities in migraine and may guide clinicians to an adequate genetic advice for patients.