Is Migraine Primarily a Metaboloendocrine Disorder?

Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2018 Apr 4;22(5):36. doi: 10.1007/s11916-018-0691-7.


Purpose of the review: The goals of this review are to evaluate recent studies regarding comorbidity between migraine and different metabolic and endocrine disorders and to discuss the role of insulin resistance as a common pathogenetic mechanism of these diseases.

Recent findings: Recently, several studies showed that migraine is associated with insulin resistance, a condition in which a normal amount of insulin induces a suboptimal physiological response. All the clinical studies that used the oral glucose tolerance test to examine insulin sensitivity found that, after glucose load, there is in migraine patients a significant increase of both plasmatic insulin and glucose concentrations in comparison with controls. On the contrary, no association was found between migraine and type 2 diabetes, while type 1 diabetes seems to have a protective effect in the disease. Obesity and hypertension were shown to be risk factors for both episodic and chronic migraine. Metabolic syndrome has been recently associated mainly with migraine with aura and is now considered a risk factor also for medication overuse headache. Finally, a bidirectional association between migraine and hypothyroidism has been recently demonstrated, suggesting that common genetic or autoimmune mechanisms underlie both diseases. Recent studies showed that insulin receptor signaling and the related physiological responses are altered in migraine and may have a relevant pathogenic role in the disease. Further studies are warranted in order to better elucidate mechanisms underlying insulin resistance in migraine in order to develop new therapeutic strategies for this debilitating disease.

Keywords: Hypothyroidism; Insulin resistance; Metabolic syndrome; Migraine; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Endocrine System Diseases / complications*
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / complications*
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology*