Research from a large twin study at UC San Diego suggests that migraines can be caused by hormones and genetic factors.
The team also found differences in migraine risk dependent on sex. There was evidence of different genes affecting risk in men and women.
Migraine, a neurological condition that affects more than 12% worldwide, is a serious disability. People with migraines experience severe headaches on a regular basis. Women are almost seven times more likely than men to suffer from the condition.
Matthew Panizzon Ph.D., principal investigator of this study, which was conducted at the UC San Diego School of Medicine in a press release, stated that migraine is a widespread condition.
The data from the Swedish Twin Registry was the largest twin registry in the globe, and it provided an opportunity to investigate factors that contribute to migraine female-male differences.
As reported in the journal Frontiers in Pain ResearchThe researchers used data from 51.872 people who had previously participated in the earlier study. Swedish Twin RegistryTheir study is supported by studies. The largest registry of its kind, it was established by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm in the 1960s.
The team used a statistical model in order to determine if migraine is equally common in men and in women. They also looked into whether different genes might be involved in migraine in men or women.
As expected, migraine rates in women were higher than those in men, at 17.6% vs. 5%, respectively. While genetics were not explored in detail, migraine was found to have a similar heritability in both men and women using the relatedness of twins. Researchers did find some evidence suggesting that there may be subtle differences in the migraine genes between men and women.
The migraine risk for women with male co-twins was 51% higher than those with female co-twins. This finding could be related to the prenatal environment of the womb, according to the researchers.
Morgan Fitzgerald, a lead author of the study from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, said that we are the first to demonstrate that migraine risk is higher in females who have a male co-twin than in females who have a female cotwin. This suggests that prenatal factors, possibly related to in utero hormones, may be contributing to migraine risk. We also have evidence that the genetic factors associated with migraine risk may differ between males and females.
Researchers hope their findings will aid clinicians and researchers in better understanding this common condition, and potentially improve therapeutic options.
Our findings are important because understanding the causes of migraine, and particularly the differences between males versus females, is key to improving clinical care, diagnostic abilities and therapeutic interventions for both women and men.