Are migraines hereditary? Migraine genetics have been a focus of study by doctors for decades. The question is complex, but the answer to “Are migraines genetic?” appears to be yes. Research continues to probe the link between migraines and the genes, but here’s what we know so far.
The Earliest Formal Research Shows a Genetic Link for Migraines
Research dating back to 1995 from Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School indicates that having “first-degree” relatives with migraine will significantly increase migraine risk – raising it anywhere from 1.4 to nearly 4 times. This affected both aura- and non-aura migraines.
Interestingly, the study also found that the spouses of those who suffer migraine without aura also had a significantly higher likelihood of migraine without aura themselves. The researchers concluded that migraine with aura is likely determined principally by genetics.
On the other hand, migraine without aura may originate partly or largely from environmental factors.
Twins Reveal Interesting New Directions in Migraine Research
Migraine research had long been limited by basic deficiencies in science’s knowledge of human genetics. In 2003, the human genome was mapped for the first time, significantly increasing the potential of genetics to explain, predict – and ultimately, perhaps prevent – migraine and more.
In 2005, research in the Journal of Clinical Neurology made surprising findings about migraine’s origin and prevalence. Up to 20 percent of the population experiences migraines: A landmark study in Korea indicated about 20 percent of males and 24 percent of females were sufferers.
Not only did research in the early 2000s begin to identify individual genetic markers that may be associated with migraine, but it demonstrated a significant role of non-shared genes in twins. Substantial differences in migraine prevalence across different countries were also noted.
Genetic Models of Migraine Continue to Develop
In 2007, research from the Archives of Neurology took the previous lab work another step forward. Through additional studies using mice, as well as continuing investigation of genetic factors, a set of three genes were identified for familial hemiplegic migraine.
Familial hemiplegic migraine is one type of migraine known to run in families. It is classified as an “aura migraine,” since a visible halo or aura is usually perceived by sufferers before the onset of full symptoms. Temporary numbness or weakness also typically occurs on one side of the body.
Familial hemiplegic migraine is one of the most severe forms of migraine – and also one of the easiest to diagnose because of its unusual symptoms, some of which can be permanent. In the future, it might become possible to target and “turn off” the responsible genes.
Recent Research Opens the Door to Future Migraine Treatments
More than a decade of work done since the Human Genome Project has substantially clarified the mysteries behind the common migraine. Genome-wide association studies will soon make it possible to rapidly investigate the genetic correlations of migraine across entire populations of people.
The development of such studies also allows for meta-analysis – that is, analyzing the results of large numbers of studies, which themselves analyze the health status of thousands or tens of thousands of patients. Through these methods, we know more about migraine than we ever have before.
2012 research in the Journal of Headache Pain continued to push toward effective identification of key factors involved in non-aura migraines and those with complicated, multi-gene factors. Multiple new gene factors were illuminated, many of which had never been suspected.
In August 2013, two major new studies appeared: One in the Journal of Head and Face Pain and another in Nature Genetics. Both studies continued to fill in the blanks on migraine, showing multiple new loci – a specific position on a chromosome – associated with migraine.
Want Access to the Latest Migraine Treatments?
In the near future, groundbreaking genetic treatments for migraine may be possible. To get fast, long-lasting relief from migraine, however, you don’t have to wait until then: Simply visit the migraine specialist Miami trusts.
Science has proven conclusively that many forms of migraine arise due to genetic factors. That said, environment and overall health also play roles. Underlying health conditions can cause many types of severe headaches, including non-aura migraines.
These conditions might go unnoticed for months or years, worsening headache pain.
Miami Headache Institute
At the Miami Headache Institute, treatment always begins with a thorough and comprehensive diagnosis using the latest technology. Following a detailed, one-on-one assessment with leading migraine experts, each patient receives a customized plan of care.
With appropriate, tailored care, many patients achieve permanent relief from pain.
If you’re suffering from chronic headaches or migraines, don’t wait any longer. Join thousands of patients from throughout the Sunshine State who have worked with Miami Headache Institute to get permanent relief. We look forward to helping you.Visit our convenient location or contact us today.