SUNDAY, Aug. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Having a particular variation of a gene on chromosome 8 may raise the risk of getting migraines, new research shows.
While migraines have long been believed to have a genetic component, pinpointing specific genes has proven difficult, the researchers said.
The current study is among the first to identify a specific genetic variant associated with a heightened risk for the most common types of migraines, including migraines with and without aura, although the link to migraines with aura was stronger, according to the study.
"We have found this association primarily with migraine with aura. More studies need to be done to verify how widely this is true for other forms of migraine," said senior study author Aarno Palotie, chair of the International Headache Genetics Consortium at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in England.
The study is published in the Aug. 29 issue of Nature Genetics.
Researchers conducteed a genome-wide association study on more than nearly 6,000 people diagnosed with migraine headaches and some 50,000 people without migraines, and found that migraine sufferers were more likely to have a variant on chromosome 8 between the MTDH and the PGCP gene.
The genes are involved with the regulation of the neurotransmitter glutamate, Palotie said.
"When you use genome-wide association studies, you often land in an area that you have no clue what's actually done there," Palotie said. "In this case, we were lucky. Both of these genes are related to the glutamate balance in the body and the brain. We further know that one of these genes regulate an additional gene involved in glutamate regulation."
Glutamate is a chemical, or molecule, that transmit signals between neurons, Palotie said. Researchers speculate the variant might cause glutamate to build up in the synapses, but why a disruption in g
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