New Hope for Migraine Sufferers

Griffith University identifies female gene link. New hope has arrived for migraine sufferers following a Griffith University study with the people of Norfolk Island.

Led by Professor Lyn Griffiths from the University’s Griffith Health Institute, the team has identified a new region on the X chromosome as playing a role in migraines.

The research provides compelling evidence for a new migraine susceptibility gene involved in migraines. The study also indicated that there may be more than one X chromosomal gene involved and implicated a gene involved in iron regulation in the brain.

All females have two X chromosomes whilst males have an X and a Y chromosome.

“These results provide more support for the role of the X chromosome in migraine and may explain why so many more females suffer from the disorder,” said Professor Griffiths.

Tracking down and identifying the various genes that cause migraine is very important as it provides insights to allow us to develop better means of diagnosis and more targeted treatments.

“Currently, 12 per cent of the population suffers from migraine. Even though we have some very good treatments for this very debilitating disease, they certainly don’t work for everyone and can have some adverse side effects. Hence there is a real need to develop new migraine treatments.”

This National Health and Medical Research Council funded work involved a unique population study of the remote Norfolk Island where 80 per cent of inhabitants are able to trace their ancestry back to the famous historical event, The Mutiny on the Bounty.

“This population was used due to its unusual pedigree structure in which genetic relationships can be traced through genealogical data to the island’s original founders, and also the high incidence of migraine sufferers in this population. It’s very useful for gene mapping purposes because of the reduced genetic and environmental diversity,” said Professor Griffiths.

An image of a man with a demon in his head is shown. The demon has his arm extending into the eye of the man.
A research team has identified a new region on the X chromosome as playing a role in migraine for at least one population of people. The image is adapted from an image by JD Fletcher via Wikimedia Commons. More info about the image is provided in our Notes.

A comprehensive chromosome analysis of around 300 Norfolk participants from a large multigenerational Norfolk family, including many who are affected by migraine, was conducted using DNA samples obtained from the islanders.

Notes about this migraine research and article

Funding: This work was funded by a Australian National Health and Medical Research Council grant (no.G47268). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Contact: Louise Durack – Griffith University
Source: Griffith University press release
Image Source: Neuroscience News image adapted from image by JD Fletcher. Permissions: GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
Original Research: Full open access research paper for “An X Chromosome Association Scan of the Norfolk Island Genetic Isolate Provides Evidence for a Novel Migraine Susceptibility Locus at Xq12” by Bridget H. Maher, Rod A. Lea, Miles Benton, Hannah C. Cox, Claire Bellis, Melanie Carless, Thomas D. Dyer, Joanne Curran, Jac C. Charlesworth, Julie E. Buring, Tobias Kurth, Daniel I. Chasman, Paul M. Ridker, Markus Schürks, John Blangero & Lyn R. Griffiths in PLoS ONE 2012 7(5): e37903. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037903

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