Biomarker for Migraine

A neural marker for migraine without aura has been identified on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which could become a tool to help in the diagnosis of the condition.

While most patients will not need to have an fMRI to diagnose migraine, there are some patients in which the diagnosis is uncertain, and then this could be helpful.

We know now that the occipital area is important in migraine and certain connections in this area are highly specific to patients with migraine and can be used as a marker to distinguish migraine from patients with other types of chronic pain.

In addition, during the 4-week period between the two scans, patients received treatment with real or sham acupuncture. The real acupuncture group showed a modulation of the brain marker, whereas the sham acupuncture group did not show any changes in the marker.

Diagnosis of migraine is based mainly on taking a good clinical history, and although this is unlikely to change in routine clinical practice, these emerging magnetic resonance techniques could help clinicians to discriminate those patients who have challenging clinical presentations, such as probable migraine versus tension-type headache or chronic migraine versus hemicrania continua, and patients who may not respond to therapy, thus improving diagnostic workup and patient management.