Skip to main content


  • Open Access

Heritability of migraine as a function of definition

  • 1Email author,
  • 2,
  • 2 and
  • 3
The Journal of Headache and PainOfficial Journal of the Italian Society for the Study of Headaches5:96


    The objective was to examine the main genetic and environmental architecture of migraine in the Screening Across Lifetime of Twin (SALT) Study as a function of definition. We performed a quantitative genetic study of the Swedish population and a total of 12,095 twin pairs aged 41–64 years were interviewed on the telephone by trained lay personnel using a structured questionnaire. Lifetime assessment of recurrent headache and two measures of migraine were obtained, diagnosis in line with the 1988 International Headache Society criteria and self-report. The lifetime prevalence was 10.3% for diagnosed and 21.4% for self-reported migraine. Among diagnosed cases 82.3% self-reported migraine. Among self-ascertained cases, 60.3% did not fulfil diagnostic criteria, and one third had not had recurrent headache. In multivariate analyses, genetic influences were common to diagnosed and self-reported migraine (42%) and specific to self-report migraine (11%). In univariate analyses, heritability was stable (52%) when “false positives” were removed from the case definition (diagnosed or self-reported migraine) and decreased the prevalence from 23 to 16% but dropped (from 52 to 38%) when “false negatives” were removed and decreased the prevalence from 23 to 17%. A relationship between the definition and the heritability of migraine was demonstrated and phenotypes of clinical and aetiologic relevance were disclosed.

    Key words

    • Migraine
    • Genetics
    • Heritability
    • Twin study


    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate. Please note that comments may be removed without notice if they are flagged by another user or do not comply with our community guidelines.