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  • Open Access

HLA and migraine genes

The Journal of Headache and PainOfficial Journal of the Italian Society for the Study of Headaches1:0001S141.10194


Human leukocyte Antigens (HLA) are encoded by genes located on chromosome 6p21. Genes important in migraine are being recognized in two basic ways: association studies and linkage analysis. One of the strongest associations is with the HLA region. Actually, genome scan studies suggest that multiple genes are involved in both migraine without aura (MWoA) and migraine with aura (MWA). However, both MWoA and MWA are disorders in which multiple factors, including environmental and genetic factors, confer disease susceptibility. Linkage analysis is identifying new candidate genes that will help to explain the etiology of migraine. In this review previous studies regarding genetic susceptibility to migraine are analyzed, particularly those related to the HLA region. I discuss evidence that HLA shared-hyplotypes in MWoA-affected pairs in different than that expected, that HLA-DR2 antigen provides additional basis for the proposed genetic heterogeneity between MWoA and MWA, and lastly that TNFB gene studies seem to play an important role in the susceptibility to MWoA. In the past years, major advances hae been made in understanding the genetic foundation of MWoA and MWA. Our reported genome-scan studies support the concept that MWoA/MWA are coinherited with a particular HLA region. However, the examination of candidate genes (Ca2+ channel, vascular, CNS, etc.) in a large migraine population seems to be the correct direction in which we have to move. More MWoA/MWa gene studies are needed to test this developing hypothesis and to further establish the complete genetic scenario of migraine.

  • Key words Migraine
  • Genetics
  • Human leukocyte antigens
  • Heredity
  • Susceptibility


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