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Pediatric Migraine and Genetic Culprits

Gene Variants Observed in African-American Patients May Inform Refined Treatments

Researchers from the Center for Applied Genomics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia report the discovery of gene variants that are associated with elevated risk for migraine in African-American children. The authors state that the findings may inform the development of targeted treatments for members of this population who suffer from migraine headache. Lead researcher Hakon Hakonarson, MD, PhD, director of the Center, commented, “Scientists already know that migraines may run in families, and other researchers have discovered multiple genetic links to migraine in European adults. However, this is the first large-scale genetic study of migraine in children and in African-Americans.” Findings from the study were published online last month in the Journal of Medical Genetics.

Genome-wide association studies were performed on African-American children, 380 migraine sufferers and 2,129 control subjects, and on European American children, 599 migraine patients and 4,038 controls. A novel genetic susceptibility locus, known as 5q.33.1 was found on chromosome 5 that increased African-Americans’ likelihood of migraine, but did not affect European-American subjects. 2 genes on chromosome 5, NMUR2 and GLRA1, were found to be involved in signaling pathways in the central nervous system, on further analysis of the risk locus. Dr. Hakonarson continued, “This work provides new insights into the genetic basis of childhood migraine. Our hope is that follow-up research on these signaling pathways may eventually lead to targeted migraine treatments for African-American children.”

Read about the findings.

The journal abstract may be read here.

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