Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Migraines associated with variations in structure of brain arteries

Date:
July 26, 2013
Source:
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Summary:
The network of arteries supplying blood flow to the brain is more likely to be incomplete in people who suffer migraine, a new study reports. Variations in arterial anatomy lead to asymmetries in cerebral blood flow that might contribute to the process triggering migraines.

Variations in arterial anatomy lead to asymmetries in cerebral blood flow that might contribute to the process triggering migraines. The image depicts the anatomy of the circle of Willis (A) and representative subjects with a complete (B) and incomplete circle of Willis (C). The arrowhead indicates absent anterior communicating artery and arrows indicate bilateral absent posterior communicating arteries. Abbreviations are defined as ICA: internal carotid artery; ACA: anterior cerebral artery; MCA: middle cerebral artery; PCA; posterior cerebral artery; BA: basilar artery; VA: vertebral artery; Acomm: anterior communicating artery; Pcomm: posterior communicating artery; A1, A2, P1, P2: branches of the anterior and posterior cerebral arteries. The vertebral arteries are not normally considered part of the circle of Willis, but are important to the intracranial arterial supply.
Credit: Penn Medicine/Brett Cucchiara, MD, and John Detre, MD

The network of arteries supplying blood flow to the brain is more likely to be incomplete in people who suffer migraine, a new study by researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania reports. Variations in arterial anatomy lead to asymmetries in cerebral blood flow that might contribute to the process triggering migraines.

The arterial supply of blood to the brain is protected by a series of connections between the major arteries, termed the "circle of Willis" after the English physician who first described it in the 17th century. People with migraine, particularly migraine with aura, are more likely to be missing components of the circle of Willis.

Migraine affects an estimated 28 million Americans, causing significant disability. Experts once believed that migraine was caused by dilation of blood vessels in the head, while more recently it has been attributed to abnormal neuronal signals. In this study, appearing in PLOS ONE, researchers suggest that blood vessels play a different role than previously suspected: structural alterations of the blood supply to the brain may increase susceptibility to changes in cerebral blood flow, contributing to the abnormal neuronal activity that starts migraine.

"People with migraine actually have differences in the structure of their blood vessels -- this is something you are born with," said the study's lead author, Brett Cucchiara, MD, Associate Professor of Neurology. "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."

In a study of 170 people from three groups -- a control group with no headaches, those who had migraine with aura, and those who had migraine without aura -- the team found that an incomplete circle of Willis was more common in people with migraine with aura (73 percent) and migraine without aura (67 percent), compared to a headache-free control group (51 percent). The team used magnetic resonance angiography to examine blood vessel structure and a noninvasive magnetic resonance imaging method pioneered at the University of Pennsylvania, called Arterial spin labeling (ASL), to measure changes in cerebral blood flow.

"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," said the study's senior author, John Detre, MD, Professor of Neurology and Radiology.

Both migraine and incomplete circle of Willis are common, and the observed association is likely one of many factors that contribute to migraine in any individual. The researchers suggest that at some point diagnostic tests of circle of Willis integrity and function could help pinpoint this contributing factor in an individual patient. Treatment strategies might then be personalized and tested in specific subgroups.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Brett Cucchiara, Ronald L. Wolf, Lidia Nagae, Quan Zhang, Scott Kasner, Ritobrato Datta, Geoffrey K. Aguirre, John A. Detre. Migraine with Aura Is Associated with an Incomplete Circle of Willis: Results of a Prospective Observational Study. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (7): e71007 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071007

Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Migraines associated with variations in structure of brain arteries." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130726191731.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. (2013, July 26). Migraines associated with variations in structure of brain arteries. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130726191731.htm
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Migraines associated with variations in structure of brain arteries." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130726191731.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins