Histamine intolerance is a disorder in the homeostasis of histamine due to a reduced intestinal degradation of this amine, mainly caused by a deficiency in the enzyme diamine oxidase (DAO). Among the several multi-faced symptoms associated with histamine intolerance, headache is one of the most recognized and disabling consequences. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of DAO deficiency in patients with a confirmed migraine diagnosis according to the current International Headache Society (IHS) and in non-migraine subjects. DAO activity was assessed in a total of 198 volunteers recruited at the Headache Unit of the Hospital General de Catalunya, 137 in the migraine group and 61 as a control group. DAO enzyme activity in blood samples was determined by ELISA test. Values below 80 HDU/ml (Histamine Degrading Unit/ml) were considered as DAO deficient. Mean value of DAO activity from migraine population (64.5 ± 33.5 HDU/ml) was significantly lower (p < 0.0001) than that obtained from healthy volunteers (91.9 ± 44.3 HDU/ml). DAO deficiency was more prevalent in migraine patients than in the control group. A high incidence rate of DAO deficiency (87%) was observed in the group of patients with migraine. On the other hand, 44% of non-migranous subjects had levels of DAO activity lower than 80 HDU/ml. Despite the multifactorial aetiology of migraine, these results seem to indicate that this enzymatic deficit could be related to the onset of migraine.
Keywords: Diamine oxidase (DAO); Headache; Histamine; Histamine intolerance; Migraine.