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Approved research

Risk factors in migraine: The link to comorbidities, cognition, gender, genetics, exogenous factors and changes in MRI

Principal Investigator: Dr Jessica Mwinyi
Approved Research ID: 57519
Approval date: June 24th 2020

Lay summary

In this project, we aim to investigate risk factors and comorbidities associated with migraine. Migraine is one of the most prevalent neurological conditions in the world and can cause significant disability. While both genetics and environmental factors play a role in migraine pathogenesis, much remains to be explored regarding the underlying disease mechanisms. We therefore wish to examine the effects of genetic variation, gender, cognition, lifestyle factors and disease comorbidity on migraine risk and phenotype. We are especially interested in investigating the high level of comorbidity between migraine and different neuropsychiatric and gastrointestinal illnesses. While many of these associations are well-established in the literature, the direction of the relationship is not always clear. We wish to ascertain whether these disease comorbidities may contribute to the development of migraine or vice versa. These investigations will take important confounders such as gender-specific variables, environmental and lifestyle factors and medical treatment into consideration. An additional aim of this project is to improve our understanding of how different migraine phenotypes and pharmacological treatment methods are reflected in changes in brain function and structure, using magnetic resonance imaging data. In addition, we would like to explore the extent to which genetic susceptibility factors may explain these changes. This would shed more light on the functional impact of these genetic susceptibility factors. When data from the recently introduced pain questionnaire become available, we would like to integrate these data into our analyses. This would provide greater insight into how the above-mentioned risk factors may be associated with migraine subtype and severity. In line with the aims of UK Biobank, we hope that the results from this project can be of use when developing strategies for prevention and treatment of migraine. The project is estimated to run for three years.