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New Research Reveals Genetic Clues to Migraine Without Aura

Just last week we learned about research offering a possible genetic explanation for the prevalence of migraine among women. On Sunday we learned about more research that teaches us valuable information about the genetic underpinnings of migraine attacks. And for the first time, the genes in question are related to migraine without aura, the most common variety of migraine, instead of migraine with aura.

Scientists from across Europe studied more than 11,000 people total for this study, comparing the DNA of patients with migraine without aura against that of people in the general population who do not experience migraine. The researchers identified a total of four genes related to migraine disease. They confirmed research from the US that had previously identified two genetic variations thought to be involved in the attacks of patient with migraine without aura. They also discovered additional genetic variations among patients with migraine without aura.

Not only does this research reinforce the notion that migraine has a strong genetic component, but two of the genetic variations also demonstrated that blood vessels and blood flow are a key part of the migraine attack process.

Focusing on the genetic foundation of migraine disease is important for research purposes. But it is also important in trying to combat stigma associated with invisible, misunderstood illnesses like migraine. Despite all the progress we’ve made in educating the public, too often migraine is thought to be just a headache or caused by an individual’s inability to cope with life’s stressors. The more we find out about the inherited characteristics that make us predisposed to migraine, the more ammunition we have in breaking down falsehoods about our condition.

As if the results of this study aren’t cool enough, another great thing about this research is the team that conducted it. The study was a project of the International Headache Consortium, which is a group of leading headache disorders researchers from Europe and Australia.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Freilinger, Tobias; Anttila, Verneri; de Vries, Boukje. “Genome-wide association analysis identifies susceptibility loci for migraine without aura.” Nature Genetics, June 10, 2012. Available at: Accessed June 2012.


  • tucker
    8 years ago

    There HAS to be a genetic component if so many families can trace back long histories. I have strong family history on my mother’s side – yet she, I, nor my son have/had any “typical” aura. Not sure about my grandfather or further back (dead) or aunts, uncles, cousins, etc since we rarely see them. That doesn’t mean we don’t have a non-typical one and even I’m just not tuned in enough to know it after all this time.

    At any rate, now they have their proof so put it to good use. Maybe a cure is a lot to ask for now, I guess the cool thing would be to find that genetic “answer” of knowing which med is the best. It’s already being done, just really pricey. Ahh, maybe for our grandkids’ migraines….

  • Paula Joanne Albers
    8 years ago

    Amen Diana Lee. Every time I hear news like this, I always hope they’ll keep going even stronger. It’s so encouraging to know that there are reseachers and research going on right now that can give us our lives – and dignity – back!

  • Dominique Forti
    8 years ago

    Et oui, c’est pas psychologique, on invente pas parce ça nous fait plaisir, c’est pas psychosomatique, si on se couche dans le noir, c’est parce qu’on en peut plus. C’est pas pour trouver des excuses etc…. C’est un GENE et ça leur a pris tant de temps pour le trouver, des vies entières de gachées et tjrs pas de traitement. Yes, we don’t invent it, it is not psychosomatic, it’s not because we want excuse or that we are weak. It is a gene, it took them soooo long to find out. Entire life destroy and still no hope for a treatment.

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