Epilepsy, migraine susceptibility kept in the family

Published on January 9, 2013 at 9:15 AM · No Comments

By Piriya Mahendra, medwireNews Reporter

Researchers report that there is a shared genetic susceptibility to epilepsy and migraine with aura (MA).

The findings, published in Epilepsia, demonstrate that individuals who have a strong family history of seizure disorders are at an increased risk for experiencing MA.

"Epilepsy and migraine are each individually influenced by genetic factors," commented lead author Melodie Winawer (Columbia University Medical Center, New York, USA) in a press statement. "Our study is the first to confirm a shared genetic susceptibility to epilepsy and migraine in a large population of patients with common forms of epilepsy."

In the current study, Winawer and team found that the prevalence of MA was significantly increased in participants who had two or more first-degree relatives with seizure disorders.

Indeed, the odds for having any migraine for those with two or more first-degree relatives with a seizure disorder was twofold greater than that for people with one first-degree relative with a seizure disorder. The prevalence of migraine without aura (MO) only was not significantly increased in these participants.

The study involved 730 participants with epilepsy from 501 families included in the Epilepsy Phenome/Genome Project.

The researchers say that the identification of genetic contributions to the comorbidity of epilepsy with other disorders such as migraine has implications for epilepsy patients.

"Our study demonstrates a strong genetic basis for migraine and epilepsy, because the rate of migraine is increased only in people who have close (rather than distant) relatives with epilepsy and only when three or more family members are affected," remarked Winawer.

"Further investigation of the genetics of groups of comorbid disorders and epilepsy will help to improve the diagnosis and treatment of these comorbidities, and enhance the quality of life for those with epilepsy."

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