Migraine Genetics

  • Antonio M. PersicoEmail author
  • Marco Lamberti
  • Viktor Farkas
Part of the Headache book series (HEAD)


The existence of strong genetic underpinnings to migraine has long been suggested by its tendency to recur in families. Over half of migraine patients have a first-degree relative also affected by a similar condition [1–6], with relative risks (RRs) estimated at 4.0 and 1.4 for migraine with aura (MA) and without aura (MO), respectively [5, 6]. MZ twin concordance rates are 1.5–2.0 times higher than those recorded in DZ twins, with heritability estimated at 34–57% (on average 50%) and shared environmental factors explaining a sizable proportion of variance [1–3]. In general, these genetic underpinnings are more frequently represented by rare genetic variants endowed with high penetrance in the case of MA, whereas polygenic mechanisms with gene-environment interactions more frequently underlie MO. Environmental contributors include, among others, female sex hormones, early and recent stress, and sensory hypersensitivity to visual, auditory, and olfactory stimuli [7, 8]; suggestive evidence also points toward weather and climate conditions, electromagnetic fields, smoking, pollution, and molds [7, 8]. Finally, migraine is frequently comorbid with depression, anxiety, ADHD, sleep disorders, epilepsy, and atopic and cardiovascular diseases [9, 10]. These comorbidities can conceivably stem from shared genetic and/or environmental underpinnings to a different extent in different patients [11, 12].


Aura Cortical spreading depression GWAS Headache Migraine Trigeminovascular 



A.M.P. is supported through the Italian Ministry for University, Scientific Research and Technology (PRIN n.2006058195 and n.2008BACT54_002), the Italian Ministry of Health (RFPS-2007-5-640174 and RF-2011-02350537), the Fondazione Gaetano e Mafalda Luce (Milan, Italy), and the Innovative Medicines Initiative Joint Undertaking (EU-AIMS, n. 115300). V.F. is supported by Foundation of Research of Pediatric migraine and Headache, Budapest, Hungary.

Conflict of Interest Statement: The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonio M. Persico
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Marco Lamberti
    • 1
  • Viktor Farkas
    • 3
  1. 1.Child and Adolescent NeuroPsychiatry Unit, “G. Martino” University HospitalUniversity of MessinaMessinaItaly
  2. 2.Mafalda Luce Center for Pervasive Developmental DisordersMilanItaly
  3. 3.First Department of PediatricsSemmelweiss UniversityBudapestHungary

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