Link Between Migraines and Epilepsy Confirmed
(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Migraines and epilepsy often co-occur in patients. Now, new research reveals a shared genetic susceptibility to epilepsy and migraines.
"Epilepsy and migraines are each individually influenced by genetic factors," lead author, Dr. Melodie Winawer from Columbia University Medical Center in New York, was quoted as saying, "Our study is the first to confirm a shared genetic susceptibility to epilepsy and migraine in a large population of patients with common forms of epilepsy."
For this study, researchers analyzed data from participants in the Epilepsy Phenome/Genome Project (EPGP), which is a genetic study of epilepsy patients and families from 27 clinics in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Argentina, and New Zealand. The study examined sibling and parent-child pairs with focal epilepsy or generalized epilepsy of unknown cause. Most people who have epilepsy have no family members affected with it. So the EPGP allowed researchers to look at the rare families with more than one individual with epilepsy.
The analysis of 730 participants with epilepsy from 501 families demonstrated that the prevalence of migraines with aura (MA) increased substantially when individuals in the family had seizure disorders. Participants with epilepsy who had three or more close relatives with a seizure disorder were twice as likely to have MA. This shows that a gene causes epilepsy and migraines.
"Our study demonstrates a strong genetic basis for migraine and epilepsy, because the rate of migraine is increased only in people who have close (rather than distant) relatives with epilepsy and only when three or more family members are affected. Further investigation of the genetics of groups of comorbid disorders and epilepsy will help to improve the diagnosis and treatment of these comorbidities, and enhance the quality of life for those with epilepsy,” Dr. Winawer concluded.
SOURCE: Epilepsia, January 2013