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Headache-related circuits and high frequencies evaluated by EEG, MRI, PET as potential biomarkers to differentiate chronic and episodic migraine: Evidence from a systematic review

J Headache Pain. 2022 Aug 4;23(1):95. doi: 10.1186/s10194-022-01465-1.


BACKGROUND: The diagnosis of migraine is mainly clinical and self-reported, which makes additional examinations unnecessary in most cases. Migraine can be subtyped into chronic (CM) and episodic (EM). Despite the very high prevalence of migraine, there are no evidence-based guidelines for differentiating between these subtypes other than the number of days of migraine headache per month. Thus, we consider it timely to perform a systematic review to search for physiological evidence from functional activity (as opposed to anatomical structure) for the differentiation between CM and EM, as well as potential functional biomarkers. For this purpose, Web of Science (WoS), Scopus, and PubMed databases were screened.

FINDINGS: Among the 24 studies included in this review, most of them (22) reported statistically significant differences between the groups of CM and EM. This finding is consistent regardless of brain activity acquisition modality, ictal stage, and recording condition for a wide variety of analyses. That speaks for a supramodal and domain-general differences between CM and EM that goes beyond a differentiation based on the days of migraine per month. Together, the reviewed studies demonstrates that electro- and magneto-physiological brain activity (M/EEG), as well as neurovascular and metabolic recordings from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET), show characteristic patterns that allow to differentiate between CM and EM groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Although a clear brain activity-based biomarker has not yet been identified to distinguish these subtypes of migraine, research is approaching headache specialists to a migraine diagnosis based not only on symptoms and signs reported by patients. Future studies based on M/EEG should pay special attention to the brain activity in medium and fast frequency bands, mainly the beta band. On the other hand, fMRI and PET studies should focus on neural circuits and regions related to pain and emotional processing.

PMID:35927625 | DOI:10.1186/s10194-022-01465-1

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