The migraine-stroke connection: A genetic perspective

Cephalalgia. 2016 Jun;36(7):658-68. doi: 10.1177/0333102415621055. Epub 2015 Dec 9.


Background: A complex relationship between migraine and vascular disease has long been recognized. The pathophysiological basis underlying this correlation is incompletely understood.

Aim: The aim of this review is to focus on the migraine-vascular disorders connection from a genetic perspective, illustrating potentially shared (molecular) mechanisms.

Results: We first summarize the clinical presentation and genetic basis of CADASIL and other monogenic vascular syndromes with migraine as a prominent disease manifestation. Based on data from transgenic mouse models for familial hemiplegic migraine, we then discuss cortical spreading depression as a potential mechanistic link between migraine and ischemic stroke. Finally, we review data from genome-wide association studies, with a focus on overlapping findings with cervical artery dissection, ischemic stroke in general and cardiovascular disease.

Conclusion: A wealth of data supports a genetic link between migraine and vascular disease. Based on growing high-throughput data-sets, new genotyping techniques and in-depth phenotyping, further insights are expected for the future.

Keywords: CADASIL; cortical spreading depression; genetic susceptibility; genomewide association study; hemiplegic migraine; migraine pathophysiology; mouse model.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cortical Spreading Depression / physiology
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Migraine Disorders / complications*
  • Migraine Disorders / genetics*
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology
  • Stroke / complications*
  • Stroke / genetics*
  • Stroke / physiopathology