Unraveling the Genetics of Migraine


Migraine sufferers may have inherited a genetic tendency to experience the debilitating effects of migraine attacks. By exploring genetics and migraine, we can better understand why migraine susceptibility and severity may differ between people.

What is the Genetics of Migraine?

Genetics is the science of understanding how traits, such as migraine susceptibility and severity, are passed down from one generation to the next. Our genes contain instructions for our bodies and, by studying how these instructions differ between individuals, researchers can identify genetic variations linked to specific disease states, like migraine. Such discoveries can provide us with important insights into the mechanisms behind migraine and ultimately lead to better treatments for migraine sufferers.

How Genetics Influence Migraine Symptoms

Genes influence a person’s migraine symptoms in various ways. For example, certain genes have been found to increase the risk of developing migraine, while others may affect the perception of pain and therefore impact the severity of symptoms or response to treatment. The expression of these genes is also influenced by environmental factors such as lifestyle, diet and stress levels – all of which can further modify an individual’s diagnosis and susceptibility to migraine attacks.

What are The Most Common Mutation Sites?

The most common mutation sites that have been associated with migraine are gene variants in CACNA1A, ATP1A2, and SCN1A. These genes code for proteins that are important in the functioning of cellular ion channels and impact how nerve cells communicate with each other. Genetics indicate that variants can lead to disrupted communication pathways in the brain, which can contribute to or worsen migraine symptoms.

How Can You Test For Genetic Variations That Affect Migraines?

If you suspect that your specific genetic makeup has an influence on your migraine symptoms, there are tests available that can help you identify any relevant genetic variations. Genetic testing can be done through a blood or a saliva sample, depending on the test being run. Your doctor can help you find a testing provider and discuss whether this type of test would be beneficial for understanding your individual medical profile.

How Can I Cope with My Condition if I Have a Specific Genetic Variation?

If genetics reveal that you have genetic factors associated with migraine, it’s important to recognize how that variation affects you and how best to manage it. It may be helpful to keep a log of the foods you eat, the activities you participate in, and other factors that could influence your migraine symptoms. Keeping track of this information over time can help you identify patterns and potentially develop strategies for managing your condition intelligently. Some people have even had success using tracking technology like fitness wearables to monitor their physical activity and sleep patterns for more detailed insights about their health.

Identification of new genetic risk factors for migraine

Genes play an important role in the risk of developing migraines. To gain a better understanding of this, the International Headache Genetics Consortium conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS). Researchers assessed the shared genetic factors between migraine with aura and migraine without aura, uncovering three specific risk variants for migraine with aura and two for migraine without aura. Thus, genetics has revealed that both neuronal and vascular genetic elements contribute to an individual’s likelihood of getting a migraine and these findings may even lead to new therapies against the disabling condition. Furthermore, they identified genomic regions containing genes that encode targets of recent medications specifically designed to treat migraines. These regions contain CGRP inhibitors which block calcitonin gene-related peptide molecules involved in migraine attacks, and serotonin 1F receptors which are also potential targets for treatments.