Researchers recently identified 12 genetic regions associated with susceptibility to migraine, including five areas discovered for the first time.
Eight of the regions were found in or near genes involved with controlling brain circuitries, and two of the regions were associated with genes that are responsible for maintaining healthy brain tissue.
This study, which the researchers say opens doors to understanding the cause and triggers of migraine, included 29 different genomic studies , 23,000 individuals with migraine and more than 95,000 population-matched controls.
This was the largest migraine-related study to date, and its size proved essential, researchers said in a press release.
“We would not have made discoveries by studying smaller groups of individuals,” said Gisela Terwindt, co-author from Leiden University Medical Centre in The Netherlands. “This large scale method of studying over 100,000 samples of healthy and affected people means we can tease out the genes that are important suspects and follow them up in the lab.”
Researchers also found that some of the regions involved with migraine are close to genes that are sensitive to oxidative stress, which causes cell dysfunction. Additionally, researchers believe many of the genes associated with migraine are interconnected and possibly disrupt the regulation of tissue and cells in the brain, resulting in some of the symptoms of migraine.
Studies such as this one are vital to fully understanding and treating migraine, researchers said.
“This approach is the most efficient way of revealing the underlying biology of these neural disorders,” said co-author Mark Daly, PhD, from the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. “Effective studies that give us biological or biochemical results and insights are essential if we are to fully get to grips with this debilitating condition.
“Pursuing these studies in even larger samples and with denser maps of biological markers will increase our power to determine the roots and triggers of this disabling disorder.”
The study was published online last month in the journal Nature Genetics.