Financial stress is associated with migraine, if you have specific circadian gene variants

September 3, 2017, European College of Neuropsychopharmacology
Credit: Sasha Wolff/Wikipedia

People with a specific variation in the CLOCK gene have more migraines under financial stress. This work, the first time that the genetics of circadian rhythms has been shown to have an effect on migraine, is presented at the ECNP conference in Paris.

Migraine is a serious and debilitating neurological disease affecting 1 billion people worldwide. Migraine has been estimated to cause a financial cost of around €27 billion every year in the European Union, and $17 billion every year in the USA. In the UK, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 12 men are sufferers.

The background of migraine is highly complex involving a large number of and their interaction with environmental effects, and acting via multiple pathways in the central nervous system. Variations of circadian genes (which affect how the body controls and responds to environmental changes—such as changes in light) have previously been shown to affect mood disorders, so it was thought it would be interesting to see if they were associated with migraine.

The group of researchers from Hungary and the UK checked 999 patients from Budapest and 1350 from Manchester, for two variants (single nucleotide polymorphisms, SNPs) of the CLOCK gene, and how these are associated with migraine. The CLOCK gene has an important role in regulating many rhythmic patterns of the body, including body temperature or level of cortisol, the primary hormone. They found that there was no significant direct connection between the gene and migraine, but when they factored in stress (, measured by a financial questionnaire), they showed that the investigated gene variants increased the odds of having migraine type headaches in those subjects who suffered from financial hardship by around 20%. (odds ratio—see abstract for details).

The researchers looked at functional within the CLOCK gene that are able to influence how much protein is transcribed from the gene. Because this protein controls the body clock machinery these variants may impair processes that can prevent migraine in the face of stress.

Researcher Daniel Baksa (Semmelweis University, Budapest) said:

"This work does not show what causes migraine—there is no single cause—but it does show that both stress and genetics have an effect. In the work presented here, we were able to show that stress—represented by financial hardship—led to an increase in migraine in those who have a particular . What we need to do now is to see if other circadian gene variants in association with different stress factors cause the same effect.

The strength of our study is that we saw the same effect in two independent study groups, in Budapest and Manchester, so we think it is a real effect. The investigated gene variants are present in around 1/3 of the population, so they are common variants with small effect size. Our results shed light on one specific mechanism that may contribute to migraine. What it does mean is that for many people, the stress caused by financial worries can physically affect you. Migraine involves a huge health and financial burden each year, so any steps we can take to help patients understand their condition will be really welcome."

Commenting, Professor Andreas Reif (University Hospital, Frankfurt) said:

"This is a really interesting study on the interaction of genetics with stress in migraine. The studied gene is involved in the circadian system, which has previously been shown to be implicated in mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, which intriguingly is comorbid with migraine. Thus, this study might provide a clue how these diseases might be linked on the genetic level which is interesting as such. But even beyond this, the study demonstrates how an environmental risk factor exerts its effect only in the presence of a given genetic risk factor. This has not been done to a great extent in migraine, making this study an exciting new lead."

Explore further: Polymorphism in rs4343 of ACE gene linked to migraine

Related Stories

Polymorphism in rs4343 of ACE gene linked to migraine

June 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) gene rs4343 polymorphism is associated with the risk of migraine, according to a letter to the editor published online June 18 in CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics.

Genes may not be to blame for link between migraine and heart disease

July 2, 2015
A new study suggests that genes may not be to blame for the increased risk of heart disease some studies have shown in people with migraine, especially those with migraine with aura. The research is published during Headache/Migraine ...

Both too much, too little weight tied to migraine

April 12, 2017
Both obesity and being underweight are associated with an increased risk for migraine, according to a meta-analysis published in the April 12, 2017, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of ...

Could your child have migraines?

March 16, 2015
(HealthDay)—Determining if your child has migraine headaches may be difficult because the symptoms aren't always obvious, experts say.

Migraine, tension headaches and irritable bowel syndrome linked?

February 23, 2016
Migraine and tension-type headaches may share genetic links with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to a preliminary study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 68th Annual Meeting ...

Examining whether migraine is associated with cervical artery dissection

March 6, 2017
A new study published online by JAMA Neurology examines whether a history of migraine is associated with cervical artery dissection (CEAD), a frequent cause of ischemic (blood vessel-related) stroke in young and middle-age ...

Recommended for you

Ambitious global virome project could mark end of pandemic era

February 23, 2018
Rather than wait for viruses like Ebola, SARS and Zika to become outbreaks that force the world to react, a new global initiative seeks to proactively identify, prepare for and stop viral threats before they become pandemics.

Forecasting antibiotic resistance with a 'weather map' of local data

February 23, 2018
The resistance that infectious microbes have to antibiotics makes it difficult for physicians to confidently select the right drug to treat an infection. And that resistance is dynamic: It changes from year to year and varies ...

Scientists gain new insight on how antibodies interact with widespread respiratory virus

February 22, 2018
Scientists have found and characterized the activity of four antibodies produced by the human immune system that target an important protein found in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), according to new research published ...

Study reveals how kidney disease happens

February 22, 2018
Monash researchers have solved a mystery, revealing how certain immune cells work together to instigate autoimmune kidney disease.

Past encounters with the flu shape vaccine response

February 20, 2018
New research on why the influenza vaccine was only modestly effective in recent years shows that immune history with the flu influences a person's response to the vaccine.

Building better tiny kidneys to test drugs and help people avoid dialysis

February 16, 2018
A free online kidney atlas built by USC researchers empowers stem cell scientists everywhere to generate more human-like tiny kidneys for testing new drugs and creating renal replacement therapies.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.