Chronic migraine in women is associated with insulin resistance: a cross-sectional study

Eur J Neurol. 2014 Feb;21(2):267-72. doi: 10.1111/ene.12289. Epub 2013 Nov 15.


Background and purpose: Migraine is a common neurological disorder. It can be divided into episodic migraine (EM) and chronic migraine (CM), based on headache frequency. Some studies have shown that insulin sensitivity is impaired in migraine; moreover, hypertension, diabetes and obesity are common in patients with CM. The aim of this study was to assess serum glucose, insulin levels and insulin resistance (IR) in a sample of episodic migraineurs, chronic migraineurs and non-pain healthy controls.

Methods: Eighty-three women with EM, 83 with CM and 83 healthy controls were recruited. Headache was diagnosed according to the latest International Classification of Headache Disorders 2 criteria. Waist circumference, body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure were measured. Checked metabolic parameters included fasting glucose, the 2 h 75 g oral glucose tolerance test (2 h OGTT), serum HbA1c, blood lipid profile, C-reactive protein and prolactin. The homeostasis model assessment formula was used to calculate IR.

Results: A significant prevalence of IR in CM was observed (P = 0.002). No significant associations were found with fasting glycaemia, the 2 h OGTT, HbA1c, blood lipid profile, C-reactive protein, prolactin and waist circumference. Obesity (BMI >30 kg/m(2)) was associated with an increased risk of CM [odds ratio (OR) 2.4]. When the outcome of interest was the association between IR and obesity, the OR was significantly increased compared with IR alone (OR = 13.2).

Conclusion: This may suggest that CM is associated with IR status, particularly when it is in partnership with obesity.

Keywords: chronic migraine; episodic migraine; insulin resistance; metabolic syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / complications
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Waist Circumference


  • Blood Glucose