Aberration in Structure of Brain Artery Responsible For Migraines: New Study

Brain Neuron

 

Incomplete Brain Arterial Network Found In Migraineurs (1)

Researchers from University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine are suggesting based on their recent study, that the network of arteries that supply blood to the brain is incomplete in those who suffer migraines. This impairs and creates asymmetries in cerebral blood flow that act as triggers for migraines.

The network of cerebral arteries consists of a series of connections between major arteries. This network with it’s connections is called ‘Circle of Willis’. The study found a strong association between incomplete network connections in the Circle of Willis thus depriving certain parts of the brain of blood flow and oxygen.

As per lead author of the study, Brett Cucchiara, MD, Associate Professor of Neurology, “People with migraine actually have differences in the structure of their blood vessels – this is something you are born with. These differences seem to be associated with changes in blood flow in the brain, and it’s possible that these changes may trigger migraine, which may explain why some people, for instance, notice that dehydration triggers their headaches.” (2)

The study also suggested that blood vessels in the brain played a rather different role in migraine condition than what was earlier believed. The structural aberration in blood supply caused by an incomplete Circle of Willis also increases a person’s susceptibility to abnormal neural activity and electrical pulse generation in the brain thus triggering migraines.

The study examined 170 people from three groups.

  • Group 1: A control group with no migraines or headaches
  • Group 2: Those suffering from migraines with aura
  • Group 3: Those with migraines without aura

A good percentage of persons in Groups 2 and 3 were found to have a common ground of incomplete Circle of Willis when compared to the control group.

MRI angiography was employed to examine blood vessel structure and a noninvasive magnetic resonance imaging method called Arterial Spin Labeling (ASL) was used to measure changes in cerebral blood flow during the study.

According to senior author, John Detre, MD, Professor of Neurology and Radiology, “Abnormalities in both the circle of Willis and blood flow were most prominent in the back of the brain, where the visual cortex is located. This may help explain why the most common migraine auras consist of visual symptoms such as seeing distortions, spots, or wavy lines.” (3)

The study suggests that at some point in the future more work on the role of the Circle of Willis will help design personalized treatment and therapy for patients.

SOURCES:

  1. Image credits: FreeDigitialPhotos.net: Image by Renjith krishnan; Web July 2013; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/neuron-photo-p186134
  2. Migraines Associated With Variations in Structure of Brain Arteries; Science Daily News; Web July 2013; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130726191731.htm
  3. Abnormal Arteries May Trigger Migraines; Nationalpainreport.com; Web July 2013; http://americannewsreport.com/nationalpainreport/abnormal-arteries-may-trigger-migraines-8821061.html

DETAILS OF THE STUDY MAY BE HAD AT PLOS ONE:

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