Migraine is a neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system causing painful attacks of headache.
A genetic vulnerability and exposure to environmental triggers can influence the migraine phenotype. Migraine interferes
in many facets of people’s daily life including employment commitments and their ability to look after their families resulting
in a reduced quality of life. Identification of the biological processes that underlie this relatively common affliction
has been difficult because migraine does not have any clearly identifiable pathology or structural lesion detectable by current
medical technology. Theories to explain the symptoms of migraine have focused on the physiological mechanisms
involved in the various phases of headache and include the vascular and neurogenic theories. In relation to migraine
pathophysiology the trigeminovascular system and cortical spreading depression have also been implicated with supporting
evidence from imaging studies and animal models. The objective of current research is to better understand the pathways
and mechanisms involved in causing pain and headache to be able to target interventions. The genetic component of
migraine has been teased apart using linkage studies and both candidate gene and genome-wide association studies, in
family and case-control cohorts. Genomic regions that increase individual risk to migraine have been identified in neurological,
vascular and hormonal pathways. This review discusses knowledge of the pathophysiology and genetic basis of
migraine with the latest scientific evidence from genetic studies.
Keywords: Migraine, Migraine with aura, Migraine without aura, Familial hemiplegic migraine, Molecular genetics, Genes.
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