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Myelin Sheath & Cellular Elements Over Axons of Nerve Cells Are Patchy Or Missing In Migraineurs (1)
A study conducted by a team of researchers from three different departments at Case Western School of Medicine, clearly exhibits that certain changes at the cellular-level of the nerve structure of migraineurs leads to migraines in many patients. This in turn brings about functional changes of the nerves and further contributes to painful migraine episodes.
The findings of the study were published in the November issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. You can read the report by clicking on the link below (2)
Myelin is an electricity insulating material that forms a layer/sheath which surrounds the axon of a nerve cell/neuron. The detailed study of miniscule specimens of the trigeminal nerves of migraineurs showed that there were abnormalities in the myelin sheath that served as insulation around nerve fibres in the trigeminal nerves.
Another group of patients that had been evaluated and found eligible and thus had opted for plastic surgery as a route to treat their migraine was also studied. They had all undergone the forehead lift procedure, which involved removal of some muscle and vessel tissue surrounding the cranial nerves.
The nerve fiber samples of all these patients were studied and compared for proteomic analysis. Electron microscopy techniques were used for the process of evaluating the presence and functioning of different proteins in the nerve fiber obtained from the patient’s trigeminal nerves. It was found that migraining patients without the surgery had missing or defective myelin sheaths over their nerve cells compared to those that had opted for the surgery.
As per surgeon Bahman Guyuron, MD, of Case Western Reserve University, “If the insulation becomes cracked or damaged by conditions in the environment, that’s going to affect the cable’s ability to perform its normal function. In a similar way, damage to the myelin sheath may make the nerves more prone to irritation by the dynamic structure surrounding them, such as muscle and blood vessels, potentially triggering migraine attacks.” (3)
Another key observation made was that the placement and organization of cellular elements in the nerve fibers was tight and uniform for the group that undergone surgery to treat migraines whereas the migraining group was found to have a discontinuous and patchy distribution of the cellular elements in their nerve fibers.
This brings to light the criticality of the peripheral nerves in triggering complex events in a migraine attack that eventually involves our central nervous system. Co-authors of this study add, “These findings may also lead to other opportunities to treat patients with migraine headaches non-invasively, or with less invasive procedures that repair the defective myelin around nerves, lending additional protection for the nerves.”
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