Mystery of migraine associated with the expansion of the cavities of the brain

(ORDO NEWS) — For the first time, doctors examined the brain of patients with migraine in a super-resolution tomography.

It was found that the cavities that surround the vessels passing there and are involved in cleaning the brain are enlarged in them. Perhaps this is a consequence of the disease, and perhaps one of its causes.

More than ten percent of the world’s inhabitants suffer from migraines – periodic bouts of severe headache. It is often accompanied by nausea, hypersensitivity to external stimuli, and specific visual experiences – the aura. For some people, these attacks last for several hours, for others they can last for days.

Often they are “launched” by certain triggers, provoking factors. In addition, the risk of developing migraine is partly inherited , but the underlying cause of the disease is unknown, and it remains incurable.

For the first time, researchers at the University of Southern California have been able to examine the brains of migraine patients using ultra-high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (7T MRI).

It turned out that, in comparison with healthy people, they have significantly enlarged perivascular spaces – gaps that surround the vessels of the central nervous system and are involved in the transfer of substances between it and the rest of the body.

In the coming days, the authors will present their work at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), but for now, it is described in the RSNA press release.

Mystery of migraine associated with the expansion of the cavities of the brain 2
Left: MRI of the brain of a patient with migraine; the arrows show the region of the semioval center with dilated perivascular spaces. Right — MRI of a healthy brain

Nasim Sheikh-Bahaei and colleagues studied ten volunteers with classic migraine and the same number with chronic migraine, which attacks are accompanied by aura and occur very often.

The control group consisted of five healthy people. In comparison with them, in all patients with migraine, the perivascular spaces were expanded.

This expansion was especially noticeable in the region of the semi-oval center – the accumulation of white matter near the corpus callosum, which connects the hemispheres to each other.

Expansion of the perivascular spaces is considered an important diagnostic feature of brain damage and neurological diseases, including some types of dementia.

However, in patients with migraine, this was noticed for the first time, and it is not yet completely clear how they are related to each other.

Perivascular spaces play an important role in clearing the brain of accumulated metabolic products. Perhaps their abnormal expansion indicates a violation of this cleaning, which leads to the development of migraine.

But there is a possibility that it was the result of deeper changes – the same symptom as the headache itself.

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