Molecular Genetics and Genomics

, Volume 287, Issue 11, pp 837-844

First online:

A possible role for mitochondrial dysfunction in migraine

  • S. StuartAffiliated withGenomics Research Centre, Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University
  • , L. R. GriffithsAffiliated withGenomics Research Centre, Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University Email author 

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Migraine is a common neurological disorder characterised by debilitating head pain and an assortment of additional symptoms which can include nausea, emesis, photophobia, phonophobia and occasionally visual sensory disturbances. Migraine is a complex disease caused by an interplay between predisposing genetic variants and environmental factors. It affects approximately 12 % of studied Caucasian populations with affected individuals being predominantly female. Genes involved in neurological, vascular or hormonal pathways have all been implicated in predisposition towards developing migraine. All of these are nuclear encoded genes, but given the role of mitochondria in a number of neurological disorders and in energy production it is possible that mitochondrial variants may play a role in the pathogenesis of this disease. Mitochondrial DNA has been a useful tool for studying population genetics and human genetic diseases due to the clear inheritance shown through successive generations. Given the clear gender bias found in migraine patients it may be important to investigate X-linked inheritance and mitochondrial-related variants in this disorder. This paper explores the possibility that mitochondrial DNA changes may play a role in migraine. Few variants in the mitochondrial genome have so far been investigated in migraine and new studies should be aimed towards investigating the role of mitochondrial DNA in this common disorder.


Energy metabolism Migraine Mitochondria Mitochondrial dysfunction Migraine pathogenesis Susceptibility