Migraines linked to high sodium levels in cerebrospinal fluid

November 28, 2017, Radiological Society of North America
Migraines linked to high sodium levels in cerebrospinal fluid
MR image examples of a migraine patient with exemplary region-of-interest placement in an external sodium reference phantom and in the white matter (right image). Left: Fused T1-MP-Rage and sodium image; right: sodium image. Credit: Radiological Society of North America

Migraine sufferers have significantly higher sodium concentrations in their cerebrospinal fluid than people without the condition, according to the first study to use a technique called sodium MRI to look at migraine patients. The findings were presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Migraine, a type of headache characterized by severe head pain, and sometimes nausea and vomiting, is one of the most common headache disorders, affecting about 18 percent of women and 6 percent of men. Some migraines are accompanied by vision changes or odd sensations in the body known as auras. Diagnosis is challenging, as the characteristics of migraines and the types of attacks vary widely among . Consequently, many migraine patients are undiagnosed and untreated. Other patients, in contrast, are treated with medications for migraines even though they suffer from a different type of headache, such as the more common tension variety.

"It would be helpful to have a diagnostic tool supporting or even diagnosing migraine and differentiating migraine from all other types of headaches," said study author Melissa Meyer, M.D., radiology resident at the Institute of Clinical Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, University Hospital Mannheim and Heidelberg University in Heidelberg, Germany.

Dr. Meyer and colleagues explored a magnetic resonance technique called cerebral sodium MRI as a possible means to help in the diagnosis and understanding of migraines. While MRI most often relies on protons to generate an image, sodium can be visualized as well. Research has shown that sodium plays an important role in brain chemistry.

The researchers recruited 12 women, mean age 34, who had been clinically evaluated for migraine. The women filled out a questionnaire regarding the length, intensity and frequency of their migraine attacks and accompanying auras. The researchers also brought in 12 healthy women of similar ages to serve as a control group. Both groups underwent cerebral sodium MRI. Sodium concentrations of migraine patients and healthy controls were compared and statistically analyzed.

The researchers found no statistical differences between the two groups for sodium concentrations in the gray and white matter, brain stem and cerebellum. However, significant differences emerged when the researchers looked at sodium concentrations in the cerebrospinal fluid, the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, providing a cushion for the brain while also helping to ensure chemical stability for proper brain function.

Overall, sodium concentrations were significantly higher in the brain's in migraine patients than in the healthy .

"These findings might facilitate the challenging diagnosis of a ," Dr. Meyer said.

The researchers hope to learn more about the connection between migraines and in future studies.

"As this was an exploratory study, we plan to examine more patients, preferably during or shortly after a , for further validation," Dr. Meyer said.

Explore further: Ketamine may help treat migraine pain unresponsive to other therapies

Related Stories

Ketamine may help treat migraine pain unresponsive to other therapies

October 22, 2017
Ketamine, a medication commonly used for pain relief and increasingly used for depression, may help alleviate migraine pain in patients who have not been helped by other treatments, suggests a study being presented at the ...

No evidence of an association between silent brain infarcts and having migraine with aura

May 3, 2016
A large cross-sectional study focused on women with migraines with aura and compared their brain MRI images with those of women not suffering from migraine. No differences between these two groups of women were found with ...

Migraine with aura – but not without – increases risk of stroke

September 27, 2017
Only people with migraine with aura have a higher risk of stroke, shows a twin study with 12-year follow-up, from Karolinska Institutet published in the journal Brain. The study also found that the risk is lower than previously ...

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 warning signs may differ in kids, adults

June 8, 2017
(HealthDay)—Fatigue and mood changes are the most common symptoms that occur before children develop migraines, a new study finds.

Pregnancy often leads to changes in migraines

June 5, 2015
(HealthDay)—Women who suffer from migraines may notice changes in their headache patterns when they're pregnant, experts say. For example, many women will have fewer migraines during pregnancy.

Recommended for you

Buruli ulcer: Promising new drug candidate against a forgotten disease

December 19, 2018
Buruli ulcer, a neglected tropical disease, is debilitating and stigmatising. Affecting mainly children in West and Central Africa, the chronic disease results in devastating skin lesions and can lead to permanent disfigurement ...

A versatile vaccine that can protect mice from emerging tick-borne viruses

December 18, 2018
A group of researchers led by Michael Diamond of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a vaccine that is effective in mice against Powassan virus, an emerging tick-borne virus that can cause ...

How cholera bacteria make people so sick

December 18, 2018
The enormous adaptability of the cholera bacterium explains why it is able to claim so many victims. Professor Ariane Briegel from the Leiden Institute of Biology has now discovered that this adaptability is due to rapid ...

Green leafy vegetables may prevent liver steatosis

December 17, 2018
A larger portion of green leafy vegetables in the diet may reduce the risk of developing liver steatosis, or fatty liver. In a study published in PNAS researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden show how a larger intake ...

Discovery of novel mechanisms that cause migraines

December 17, 2018
Researchers at CNRS, Université Côte d'Azur and Inserm have demonstrated a new mechanism related to the onset of migraine. They found how a mutation that causes dysfunction in a protein which inhibits neuronal electrical ...

RNA processing and antiviral immunity

December 14, 2018
The RIG-I like receptors (RLRs) are intracellular enzyme sentries that detect viral infection and initiate a first line of antiviral defense. The cellular molecules that activate RLRs in vivo are not clear.

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.