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January2012 Vol.49 Issue:        1        Table of Contents
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Habituation and Genetic Predisposition to Migraine

Aktham I. Alemam

Department of Neurology, Minoufiya University; Egypt



Background: Habituation of the nociception-specific blink reflex (nBR) was found to be reduced interictally in migraine patients. This reduction may be due to inherited susceptibility that is involved in migraine, as determining a critical threshold, and also it may be responsible for interictal nervous system dysfunction. Objective: To search for an abnormal habituation pattern of the nBR in healthy asymptomatic subjects who have a first degree relative affected by migraine, and to compare them with healthy volunteers and migraine patients. Methods: The study was done on 25 patients suffering from migraine without aura (MO), 25 subjects  having at least one first degree relative who suffers from migraine (HV-F), and 27 subjects without family history of migraine (HV). We elicited the nBR by stimulating the right supraorbital region with a custom-built electrode. Habituation was measured as the percentage area-under-the-curve decrease in 10 consecutive blocks of five averaged rectified responses. Results: The  nBR habituation was clearly reduced in MO and HV-F compared to HV. Percentage area under the curve decreased between the 1st and the 10th block by 54.08 % in HV, 23.71 % in MO (P = 0.001) and 27.42 % in HV-F (P = 0.049). A positive intra-individual correlation was found between attack frequency and habituation in MO (r = 0.621; P = 0.010). Migraine patients have interictally a deficient habituation of the nBR which is inversely related to attack frequency. Habituation deficit  was more evident in asymptomatic individuals with a family history of migraine. Conclusion: Deficient nBR habituation could thus be a trait marker for the genetic predisposition to migraine. A longitudinal follow-up study may be needed for healthy subjects at high risk to compare the genotypes. [Egypt J Neurol Psychiat Neurosurg.  2012; 49(1): 27-32]


Key Words: Migraine, habituation, blink reflex.


Correspondence to Aktham I. Alemam, Department of Neurology, Minoufiya University, Egypt.

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