The cold truth about migraine headaches

May 3, 2018

(HealthDay)—Early humans' ability to adapt to cold climates may have been helped by a genetic variant that's common in modern people who live in colder regions—and is linked with migraine headaches, researchers say.

Within the last 50,000 years, humans left Africa and colonized cold areas in Asia, Europe, and other parts of the world. And this colonization could have triggered genetic adaptations that helped these early travelers respond to cold temperatures, explained study supervisor Aida Andres. She is a geneticist with the UCL Genetics Institute, in London, England.

The researchers focused on a gene called TRPM8, which codes for the only known receptor that enables to detect and respond to cool and cold temperatures.

The investigation revealed that a genetic variant that's "upstream" from TRPM8, and may regulate it, became increasingly common in humans living in colder climates over the last 25,000 years.

For example, only 5 percent of people with Nigerian ancestry have the variant, compared to 88 percent of people with Finnish ancestry, the researchers explained.

The higher the latitude and the colder the climate, the greater the percentage of people who have the variant, according to the study published online May 3 in the journal PLoS Genetics.

Previous research found a strong association between this variant and migraine headaches. The highest rate of migraines is among people of European descent, who also have the highest rate of the cold-adaptive genetic , the study authors said.

Andres and her colleagues suggested that early humans' ability to adapt to may have contributed, to some degree, to the differences in the prevalence of that exist among various human populations today.

Explore further: Study sheds light on genetic foundation of migraines

More information: The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on migraines.

Related Stories

Study sheds light on genetic foundation of migraines

May 3, 2018
The nauseating, often debilitating, headaches affect 15-20 percent of adults in developed countries, yet they remain stubbornly hard to explain. Scientists know that migraines tend to run in families but aren't sure exactly ...

Many migraines may have a common genetic basis

June 13, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- A study into the genetic basis of many common forms of migraine has identified three variants that suggest that most forms of migraine have a shared genetic foundation, regardless of how they manifest ...

Decreasing height, increasing arthritis risk evolutionarily advantageous for humans

July 3, 2017
A single genetic change linked both to a reduction in human height and an increase in osteoarthritis risk might seem like it would quickly be kicked to the evolutionary curb. After all, how could it be an advantage to be ...

Depression and alcoholism linked to one gene in African Americans

October 26, 2017
A gene variant involved in brain development is strongly associated with the risk of developing both major depression and alcoholism in African Americans, according to a new genome-wide association study (GWAS) by Yale and ...

Gene that once aided survival in the Arctic found to have negative impact on health today

October 23, 2014
In individuals living in the Arctic, researchers have discovered a genetic variant that arose thousands of years ago and most likely provided an evolutionary advantage for processing high-fat diets or for surviving in a cold ...

Recommended for you

Lung-on-a-chip simulates pulmonary fibrosis

May 25, 2018
Developing new medicines to treat pulmonary fibrosis, one of the most common and serious forms of lung disease, is not easy.

Reconstructing Zika's spread

May 24, 2018
The urgent threat from Zika virus, which dominated news headlines in the spring and summer of 2016, has passed for now. But research into how Zika and other mosquito-borne infections spread and cause epidemics is still very ...

Molecular network boosts drug resistance and virulence in hospital-acquired bacterium

May 24, 2018
In response to antibiotics, a gene regulation network found in the bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii acts to boost both virulence and antibiotic resistance. Edward Geisinger of Tufts University School of Medicine and colleagues ...

Tick bite protection: New CDC study adds to the promise of permethrin-treated clothing

May 24, 2018
The case for permethrin-treated clothing to prevent tick bites keeps getting stronger.

Past use of disinfectants and PPE for Ebola could inform future outbreaks

May 24, 2018
Data from the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak at two Sierra Leone facilities reveal daily usage rates for disinfectant and personal protective equipment, informing future outbreaks, according to a study published May 24, 2018 in ...

Early lactate measurements appear to improve results for septic patients

May 24, 2018
On October 1, 2015, the United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a bundle of recommendations defining optimal treatment of patients suffering from sepsis, a life-threatening response to infection ...

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.