Structural and functional impact on the brain


Christoph Schankin MD discusses the potential implications of migraine for brain structure and function.

What are the potential implications of migraine on brain structure and function?

Expert Christoph Schankin MD discusses the potential implications of migraine on brain structure and function in this short video.

Video recorded at the Amgen/Novartis-supported live symposium “Delving deeper into the science of migraine”.

Held at Scottsdale, Arizona on November 22, 2019.

Imaging studies suggest that migraine is associated with changes in underlying brain structure and function:1-3

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Patients with migraine may develop structural alterations, including reduced density in cortical areas involved in pain processing versus normal controls1,2

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Patients with migraine may demonstrate functional alterations, such as altered activation of specific brain regions and response to pain stimulation3

Additionally, imaging studies suggest that patients with more severe disease show more pronounced structural and functional neurologic changes.3,4 Some patients may progress to a more severe version of their disease:5,6

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Structural imaging studies in patients with migraine suggest that there is a correlation between:4

  • Increased headache day frequency and alterations in grey matter volume4
  • Increased years lived with migraine and alterations in neural connectivity and white matter integrity7
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Functional imaging studies in patients with migraine suggest that there is an association between increased alterations in functional activation and:

  • Increased headache day frequency3
  • Increased disease duration8

Overuse of acute medications can lead to medication overuse headache (MOH).6 Analysis of patients with MOH has shown that these patients display structural changes, such as grey matter texture abnormalities, and functional changes, such as hypometabolism of several brain regions, which subsequently returned to normal after analgesic withdrawal.9,10