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Cephalalgia. 2008 Feb;28(2):105-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2982.2007.01460.x.

A review of the genetic relation between migraine and epilepsy.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, the Netherlands.


A possible relation between migraine and epilepsy has been a matter of debate for many decades. Clinical, epidemiological and therapeutic similarities may be coincidental and are no proof of a common aetiological background. However, a genetically determined dysfunction of ion channels seems to point to a common underlying mechanism for both paroxysmal disorders. For example, mutations in the three known genes for familial hemiplegic migraine can cause epilepsy. It is likely that the development of specific drugs aimed at restoring ion-channel function and/or related cellular signalling pathways might benefit patients with epilepsy as well as those with migraine. This review will briefly summarize the clinical, epidemiological, pathophysiological and therapeutic similarities between migraine and epilepsy. Most attention will be paid to the genetic relationship between these two paroxysmal disorders.

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