Journal of Neurology

, Volume 264, Issue 2, pp 295–303 | Cite as

Structural brain abnormalities in patients with vestibular migraine

  • Roberta Messina
  • Maria A. Rocca
  • Bruno Colombo
  • Roberto Teggi
  • Andrea Falini
  • Giancarlo Comi
  • Massimo FilippiEmail author
Original Communication


New advances in understanding the pathophysiology of vestibular migraine (VM) have suggested a large overlap between migraine and vestibular pathways. We explored the regional distribution of gray (GM) and white matter (WM) abnormalities in VM patients in comparison to migraine patients with (MWA) and without aura (MWoA) and their correlations with patients’ clinical manifestations. Using a 3.0 Tesla scanner, brain T2-weighted and 3D T1-weighted MRI scans were acquired from 19 VM, 19 MWA, 19 MWoA and 20 age-matched controls. GM and WM volumetric abnormalities were estimated using voxel-based morphometry (SPM12). Compared to controls, migraine patients had decreased GM volume of the left cerebellum and an increased GM volume of the left temporal lobe. VM patients had a selective GM volume increase of frontal and occipital regions compared to controls and the other two groups of migraineurs and no regions with decreased GM volume. Compared to MWoA and MWA, VM had increased GM volume of the left thalamus. Regional GM abnormalities did not correlate with disease duration and attack frequency. No WM volumetric differences were detected between migraine patients and controls. These results show that GM volume abnormalities of nociceptive and multisensory vestibular brain areas occur in VM patients. Overall, our findings suggest that an abnormal brain sensitization might lead to a dismodulation of multimodal sensory integration and processing cortical areas in VM patients.


Migraine Vestibular migraine Gray matter abnormalities Voxel-based morphometry 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

This study was approved by the Local Ethical Committes on human studies and all subjects provided written informed consent prior to study participation.

Ethical standards

The study was approved by the Local Ethical Committee on human studies and was performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was obtained from all participants at inclusion.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Neuroimaging Research Unit, Institute of Experimental Neurology, Division of NeuroscienceSan Raffaele Scientific Institute, Vita-Salute San Raffaele UniversityMilanItaly
  2. 2.Department of Neurology, Institute of Experimental Neurology, Division of NeuroscienceSan Raffaele Scientific Institute, Vita-Salute San Raffaele UniversityMilanItaly
  3. 3.ENT Department, San Raffaele Scientific InstituteVita-Salute San Raffaele UniversityMilanItaly
  4. 4.Department of Neuroradiology, San Raffaele Scientific InstituteVita-Salute San Raffaele UniversityMilanItaly

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