A ‘female’ gene may be to blame for migraine – explaining why women are more likely to suffer from the debilitating headaches, research shows.
A study found a new region on the X chromosome as having a link to migraines, providing new evidence their might be a ‘susceptibility’ gene involved.
All women have two X chromosomes while men have an X and a Y chromosome.
Researchers, led by Lyn Griffiths from Australia’s Griffith University, say more than one X chromosomal gene may be involved and believe a gene involved in iron regulation in the brain merits further attention.
Professor Griffiths based her study on genetic research of 300 inhabitants of remote Norfolk Isand, between Australia and New Zealand.
Many of the islanders are descended from survivors of the mutiny on the Bounty, moving there when they outgrown Pitcairn Island.
Eighty per cent of the inhabitants can trace their ancestry back to the mutiny.
Prof Griffiths said: ‘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.
‘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.’
Prof Griffiths added that the island was ideal for study purpose because the relatively small gene pool made mapping genetics easily.
She said: ‘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.’
The university research was funded by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council.