A team of researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore claims to have identified a biomarker present in the blood for episodic migraine. According to the researchers, the study findings could potentially have significant implications in diagnosis and treatment of episodic migraine.
A person suffers from episodic migraine when he or she experiences less than 15 headaches in a month. The author of the study, published in the journal Neurology, B. Lee Peterlin, says that “while more research is required to confirm the initial findings, the possibility of discovering a new biomarker for migraine is exciting.”
During the study, the researchers analyzed the neurological exam, blood samples and body mass index of a group of 52 women with episodic migraine and 36 women with no history of migraine headaches. The first group of the women had an average of 5.6 headache days in a month.
In the blood samples, the researchers looked for a group of lipids called ceramides, which plays a role in homeostasis and also helps regulate brain inflammation. The researchers found that in women with episodic migraine, the level of ceramides decreased.
Women suffering from migraine had 6,000 nanograms per milliliter of ceramides in their blood as compared to the women with no headache, who had 10,500 nanograms per milliliter of ceramide. Therefore, the researchers associated the standard deviation increase in levels of ceramide with a 92 percent less risk of developing migraine.
In another small random study, the researchers studied the levels of ceramide in a group of 14 subjects. Based on the levels of the ceramide, the team was able to correctly identify whether the participant had episodic migraine or not.
"This study is a very important contribution to our understanding of the underpinnings of migraine and may have wide-ranging effects in diagnosing and treating migraine if the results are replicated in further studies," said Karl Ekbom of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.
Ekbom further said that some of the shortfalls of the study include non-inclusion of males and exclusion of chronic migraine.