Migraine is a neurological condition that affects nearly 40 million people in the United States.
Migraine attacks often occur on one side of the head. They may sometimes be preceded or accompanied by visual or sensory disturbances known as an aura.
Other symptoms, like nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity, can also be present during a migraine attack.
While the exact cause of migraine is unknown, it’s believed that both environmental and genetic factors play a role in the condition. Below, we’ll take a closer look at the connection between migraine and genetics.
Can migraine be genetic?
Your DNA, which contains your genes, is packaged into 23 pairs of chromosomes. You inherit one set of chromosomes from your mother and the other from your father.
A gene is a portion of DNA that provides information on how to make various proteins in your body.
Sometimes genes can undergo changes, and these changes may cause or predispose a person to a certain health condition. These gene changes can potentially be passed down from parent to child.
Genetic changes or variations have been linked to migraine. In fact, it’s estimated that more than half of people who have migraine have at least one other family member who also has the condition.
What does the research say?
Let’s take a deeper dive into what researchers are learning about genetics and migraine.
Gene mutations associated with migraine
You may have heard about some research in the news regarding different gene mutations being linked with migraine. Some examples include:
- KCNK18. This gene encodes a protein called TRESK, which is associated with pain pathways and is found in migraine-relevant nerve areas. A specific mutation in KCNK18 has been foundTrusted Source to be associated with migraine with aura.
- CKIdelta. This gene encodes an enzyme that has many functions within the body, one of which is associated with your sleep-wake cycle. According to a 2013 study, specific mutations in CKIdelta were associated with migraine.
Gene variations associated with migraine
It’s important to point out that most migraine attacks are believed to be polygenic. This means that multiple genes contribute to the condition.