A study in the journal Nature Genetics recently linked three genes to migraine headaches. The gene TRPM8 which is involved in sensitivity to cold and pain, LRP1 which plays a role in the transmission of signals between neurons, and PRDM16 which helps determine whether cells become muscle or brown fat, were the genes which were found to be linked to migraine. An individual who inherits any of the three identified genes is at a 10% to 15% greater risk for experiencing migraine headache. In a hospital news release, Dr. Daniel Chasman, assistant professor in the preventive medicine division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said “While migraine remains incompletely understood and its underlying causes difficult to pin down, identifying these three genetic variants helps shed light on the biological roots for this common and debilitating condition,” during a hospital news release. Dr. Audrey Halpern, a clinical assistant professor in the department of neurology at NYA Langone Medical center in New York City also said “The thinking for a long time was that migraine is most commonly a multi-genetic condition with potentially many genetic variations that contribute. We clearly understand now that migraine is a condition characterized by disordered sensory processing,” which shows that the medical community’s understanding of migraine is growing. The findings from this study are very encouraging, but the study authors caution that more research is still needed to understand exactly how these genes contribute to migraine headache. Future research will hopefully allow scientists to understand exactly what happens leading up to and during migraines.

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