AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 4, 2017

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A New Biomarker for Migraine?

According to a recent study published in the journal Neurology, researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine may have discovered a new biomarker in the blood for episodic migraine. During the study, 52 women with episodic migraine and 36 women who did not have any headaches underwent a neurologic exam, had their body mass index measured and gave blood samples. Women with migraine had an average of 5.6 headache days per month. The blood samples were tested for a group of lipids that participate in energy homeostasis and that help to regulate inflammation in the brain. The study found that the total levels of the lipids called ceramides were decreased in women with episodic migraine as compared to those women without any headache disorders. Women with migraine had approximately 6,000 nanograms per milliliter of total ceramides in their blood, compared to women without headache who had about 10,500 nanograms per milliliter. Every standard deviation increase in total ceramide levels was associated with a more than 92-percent lower risk of having migraine. Additionally, and in contrast to the ceramides, two other types of lipids, called sphingomyelin, were associated with a 2.5-times greater risk of migraine with every standard deviation increase in their levels. “This study is a very important contribution to our understanding of the underpinnings of migraine and may have wide-ranging effects in diagnosing and treating migraine if the results are replicated in further studies,” said the study’s lead author. To read more about this study, click here.

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