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Investigation of cortical thickness and volume during spontaneous attacks of migraine without aura: a 3-Tesla MRI study

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Background: Structural imaging has revealed changes in cortical thickness in migraine patients compared to healthy controls is reported, but presence of dynamic cortical and subcortical changes during migraine attack versus inter-ictal phase is unknown. The aim of the present study was to investigate possible changes in cortical thickness during spontaneous migraine attacks. We hypothesized that pain-related cortical area would be affected during the attack compared to an inter-ictal phase. Methods: Twenty-five patients with migraine without aura underwent three-dimensional T1-weighted imaging on a 3-Tesla MRI scanner during spontaneous and untreated migraine attacks. Subsequently, 20 patients were scanned in the inter-ictal phase, while 5 patients did not show up for the inter-ictal scan. Four patients were excluded from the analysis because of bilateral migraine pain and another one patient was excluded due to technical error in the imaging. Longitudinal image processing was done using FreeSurfer. Repeated measures ANOVA was used for statistical analysis and to control for multiple comparison the level of significance was set at p = 0.025. Results: In a total of 15 patients, we found reduced cortical thickness of the precentral (p = 0.023), pericalcarine (p = 0.024), and temporal pole (p = 0.017) cortices during the attack compared to the inter-ictal phase. Cortical volume was reduced in prefrontal (p = 0.018) and pericalcarine (p = 0.017) cortices. Hippocampus volume was increased during attack (p = 0.007). We found no correlations between the pain side or any other clinical parameters and the reduced cortical size. Conclusion: Spontaneous migraine attacks are accompanied by transient reduced cortical thickness and volume in pain-related areas. The findings constitute a fingerprint of acute pain in migraine patients, which can be used as a possible biomarker to predict antimigraine treatment effect in future studies. Trial registration: The study was registered at ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT02202486).

Original languageEnglish
Article number98
JournalJournal of Headache and Pain
Volume22
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)98
ISSN1129-2369
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2021

    Research areas

  • Cortical volume, Migraine attack, Migraine brain, Migraine cortex, Pain cortex, Migraine without Aura/diagnostic imaging, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Pain, Temporal Lobe, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Humans

ID: 67306048