White matter disintegration, as measured by diffusion-weighted MRI, is reported in migraineurs, and is speculated to be either a marker of possible white matter disintegration or maladaptive plasticity.
Migraine is a common and disabling neurological disease. The pathomechanism that underlies the disorder is not entirely understood, and reliable biomarkers are missing. In the current analysis we looked for microstructural alterations of the brain white matter in migraine patients by means of diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging. The measurements were carried out with a novel approach based on fine-tuned nonlinear registration and nonparametric permutation test in an alignment-invariant tract representation (Tract-Based Spatial Statistics). We found reduced fractional anisotropy in the right frontal white matter cluster of migraine patients. In the same region we also found increased mean diffusivity and increased radial diffusivity. The probabilistic tractography showed connection of this cluster to other parts of the pain network (orbitofrontal cortex, insula, thalamus, dorsal midbrain). We speculate that these findings reflect maladaptive plastic changes or white matter disintegration.
aDepartment of Neurology, Albert Szent-Györgyi Clinical Center, University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary
bEuromedic Diagnostics Hungary Ltd., Szeged, Hungary
cDepartment of Radiology, Albert Szent-Györgyi Clinical Center, University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary
dDepartment of Neurological Sciences, II Faculty of Medicine, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
*Corresponding author. Address: Neuroimaging Research Group, Department of Neurology, Albert Szent-Györgyi Clinical Center, University of Szeged, Semmelweis u. 6, Szeged 6725, Hungary.
Submitted March 9, 2011; revised October 19, 2011; accepted November 29, 2011.