Authors: Sven-Eric Jordt
Source: Pain. 2011 Jan; 152(1): 4–5.
The neurological mechanisms leading to headache pain are complex and poorly understood. Genetic studies of familial migraine conditions have provided important insights into the potential physiological causes underlying headache conditions. Familial cases of hemiplegic migraine have been linked to mutations in genes encoding for calcium channels, sodium-potassium ATPase and for sodium channel subunits . Recently, a dominant negative mutation in the gene that codes for the TRESK potassium channel subunit was linked to a familial form of migraine with aura . Mutations in these genes are likely to lead to heightened excitability of peripheral nociceptors and of CNS pain circuits that contribute to the headache. Monogenic migraine conditions are rare, and genetic association studies have begun mapping migraine susceptibility loci in larger patient populations . Other headache conditions, such as cluster or tension headaches, are less clearly defined and genetic investigations are in early stages.