New Biomarker Predicts The Severity Of A Migraine Episode

Biomarkers Migraine

Adiponectin Levels In Blood Signal Pain Severity In Migraines During An Attack (1)

Adiponectin is a protein hormone that is secreted by fat or adipose tissues into our bloodstream. It is known to modulate many metabolic processes (such as glucose flux, insulin sensitivity, fatty acid oxidation, weight loss, regulation of energy metabolism etc) as well as immunity and inflammation attributes. Adiponectin is also known to modulate several of the pain pathways implicated in migraines.

A recent small-scale study on migraineurs who had anything between 2-12 episodes a month, was conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has now revealed that measuring the levels of adiponectin or ADP before a migraine treatment can tell which patients found relief from the debilitating pain. The study examined 20 women for a three-year period (2009-2012)

According to the associate professor of neurology and director of headache research at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, B. Lee Peterlin, D.O, “This study takes the first steps in identifying a potential biomarker for migraine that predicts treatment response and, we hope, can one day be used as a target for developing new and better migraine therapies.” (2)

The process included a taking blood samples of women (to check ADP levels) before giving them either a sumatriptan/naproxen or a placebo dosage and then re-drawing blood from them at half an hour, an hour and after two hours of the drug/placebo administration.

Levels of both types of ADP, viz Low Molecular Weight (or LMW, having anti-inflammatory properties) and High Molecular Weight (or HMW, having pro-inflammatory properties) were assessed.

The researchers found that higher LMW counts caused a decrease in pain for the migraineurs and a higher ratio of HMW: LMW caused pain aggravation. It was also noticed that patients who received a steady treatment for the migraine irrespective of the fact that they were being dosed with a drug or a placebo showed an overall decrease in the total ADP over a period of time.

In Peterlin’s view, should ADP (LMW and HMW) be proved to be a biomarker for migraine pain with larger scale studies, it would be very helpful for physicians to know which migraineur would benefit from which type of treatment and help them try out alternative drugs sooner than later.

The study was supported by a grant from GlaxoSmithKline and from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.


  1. Image Credits: FreeDigitalPhotos.Net; Victor Habbick; Web June 2013;
  2. Blood Levels of Fat Cell Hormone May Predict Severity of Migraines; ScienceDaily News; Web June 2013;

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