Infratentorial Microbleeds: Another Sign of Microangiopathy in Migraine

Stroke. 2015 Jul;46(7):1987-9. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.115.009604. Epub 2015 May 21.


Background and purpose: Migraine is a risk factor for clinical stroke and for subclinical white matter hyperintensities and infratentorial infarcts. These subclinical lesions are linked to small-vessel pathology. Cerebral microbleeds (CMBs) are another biomarker of small-vessel disease but have not yet been studied in migraine.

Methods: Identification of CMBs in 63 migraineurs (25 with aura/35 without aura/3 unknown aura status) and 359 controls (aged, 73-85 years) from the Prospective Study of Pravastatin in the Elderly at Risk (PROSPER) magnetic resonance imaging study. We assessed the modifying role of migraine in the co-occurrence of CMBs, infarcts, and white matter hyperintensity-load.

Results: Infratentorial microbleeds were more prevalent in migraine without aura patients than controls (14% versus 4%). Prevalence of other CMBs, infarcts, and white matter hyperintensities did not differ between groups. Migraineurs with CMBs had more often infarcts than controls with CMBs (65% versus 43%). In comparison with controls with infarcts, migraineurs with infarcts had more commonly CMBs (55% versus 30%).

Conclusions: Migraine, notably without aura, is associated with infratentorial CMBs at older age. CMBs and infarcts co-occur more often in migraine than in controls. This supports the hypothesis of small-vessel involvement in migraine pathophysiology.

Keywords: cerebral small vessel disease; magnetic resonance imaging; migraine disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / diagnosis*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / epidemiology*
  • Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors