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Migraine prevalence in eating disorders and pathophysiological correlations

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The eating disorders (ED): anorexia nervosa (AN) and Bulimia nervosa (BN) are severe psychiatric and somatic conditions occurring mainly in young woman. Although the etiology is largely unknown, same evidences suggest that biological and psychological factors play a relevant role in the pathogenesis, along with monoamine, indole and same hypothalamic hormonal dysfunctions. Migraine is characterized by similar metabolic and psychological anomalies suggesting that a possible relationship exists between the two pathological conditions. In order to understand the possible relationship between migraine and ED, we have investigated the prevalence of migraine and the other primary headaches in a large group of AN and BN patients. In addition, we have studied the role of tyrosine metabolism in the same group of AN and BN young woman sufferers. In particular, we measured plasma levels of elusive amines: tyramine (Tyr) and octopamine (Oct) and catecholamines: noradrenalin (NE), dopamine (DA). The results of this study show that the prevalence of migraine in the woman affected be EA is very high (>75%). The levels of Tyr and DA were higher and levels of NE were lower in the ED patients with respect to the control subject. These biochemical findings suggest that abnormalities of limbic and hypothalamic circuitries play a role in the pathogenesis of ED. The very high prevalence of migraine in our group of ED sufferers and the biochemical profile of migraine, similar to that ED patients have shown in this study, suggest that migraine may constitute a risk factor for the occurrence of ED in the young females. This hypothesis is supported by the onset of migraine attacks that initiated, in the majority of the patients, before the occurrence of ED symptoms.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest related to the publication of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Giovanni D’Andrea.

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D’Andrea, G., Ostuzzi, R., Francesconi, F. et al. Migraine prevalence in eating disorders and pathophysiological correlations. Neurol Sci 30 (Suppl 1), 55–59 (2009).

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