Migraine and epilepsy

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By Wei-Ta Chen MD

The association between migraine and epilepsy was established more than a century ago, but the pathophysiology underpinning of this association remains unknown. A recent genome-wide association study and others have suggested a shared genetic link between migraine and epilepsy. Dr. Chen of Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan, explains the detailed findings. Identifications of new genes may shed light into the unknown disease pathophysiology, unravel the biologic links between migraine and epilepsy, and pave the way to novel therapeutic strategies.

Key Points

  • Migraine and epilepsy are nosologically similar and both encompass 4 phases in their attacks: premonitory, aura, ictal, and resolution.
  • Migraine and epilepsy are clinically related disorders because migraine may follow (postictal migraine) or trigger (migralepsy) seizure attacks.
  • Migraine and epilepsy are epidemiologically interrelated because patients with migraine have a higher chance of also having epilepsy.
  • Recent data suggest the comorbidity of migraine and epilepsy may have shared genetic links altering cerebral excitability.
  • Anticonvulsants are the choice of treatments for comorbid migraine and epilepsy.