Fabry disease in patients with migraine with aura

Neurol Sci. 2010 Jun;31 Suppl 1:S167-9. doi: 10.1007/s10072-010-0314-5.


Anderson-Fabry disease (AFD) is an X-linked recessive lysosomal disease caused by alpha-galactosidase A (alpha-gal) deficiency, causing progressive glycosphingolipid storage in various organ systems. Headache is a frequent symptom. Cerebral magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) often shows multiple white matter lesions (WML), like those seen in patients affected by migraine, in particular with aura (MA). To our knowledge, there are no reports about the prevalence of AFD in patients with MA. The objective of the study was to determine AFD prevalence, as assessed by alpha-gal activity and genetic tests, in MA patients. We evaluated 73 consecutive patients followed by the Headache Centre of our Department with a diagnosis of MA. They were screened for migraine characteristics and cerebrovascular risk factors. Gaseous contrast transcranial Doppler was used to diagnose right-to-left shunt and MRI to detect WML. All patients underwent blood test to evaluate peripheral alpha-gal activity and to identify alpha-gal gene mutations. Of 73 consecutive screened subjects (59 females, 14 males; mean age 38.3 +/- 11.8 years), the known GLA pathologic mutation p.[Asp313Tyr] was found in a 38-year-old woman, with a history of MA, deep venous thrombosis and abdominal pain. Cerebral MRI showed small WML. This is the first study reporting AFD prevalence in a cohort of MA patients. We found a relatively high prevalence (about 1.37%) among the examined patients, even if this finding needs to be confirmed in a larger sample. Despite this high prevalence, it seems not necessary to screen systematically all MA patients for AFD, but since it is a treatable genetic disorder, it is worthwhile to consider it for the subgroup of patients presenting WML and other typical AFD symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Comorbidity
  • Fabry Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Fabry Disease / epidemiology*
  • Fabry Disease / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine with Aura / diagnostic imaging
  • Migraine with Aura / epidemiology*
  • Mutation
  • Prevalence
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Transcranial
  • alpha-Galactosidase / genetics


  • alpha-Galactosidase