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Am J Med Genet A. 2004 Nov 15;131(1):50-8.

Mitochondrial DNA control region sequence variation in migraine headache and cyclic vomiting syndrome.

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Division of Medical Genetics, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, California, USA.


Migraine headache is a very common condition affecting about 10% of the population that results in substantial morbidity and economic loss. The two most common variants are migraine with (MA) and without (MO) aura. Often considered to be a migraine-like variant, cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS) is a predominately childhood condition characterized by severe, discrete episodes of nausea, vomiting, and lethargy. Disease-associated mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence variants are suggested in common migraine and CVS based upon a strong bias towards the maternal inheritance of disease, and several other factors. Temporal temperature gradient gel electrophoresis (TTGE) followed by cyclosequencing and RFLP was used to screen almost 90% of the mtDNA, including the control region (CR), for heteroplasmy in 62 children with CVS and neuromuscular disease (CVS+) and in 95 control subjects. One or two rare mtDNA-CR heteroplasmic sequence variants were found in six CVS+ and in zero control subjects (P = 0.003). These variants comprised 6 point and 2 length variants in hypervariable regions 1 and 2 (HV1 and HV2, both part of the mtDNA-CR), one half of which were clustered in the nt 16040-16188 segment of HV1 that includes the termination associated sequence (TAS), a functional location important in the regulation of mtDNA replication. Based upon our findings, sequencing and statistical analysis looking for homoplasmic nucleotide changes was performed in HV1 among 30 CVS+, 30 randomly-ascertained CVS (rCVS), 18 MA, 32 MO, and 35 control haplogroup H cases. Within the nt 16040-16188 segment, homoplasmic sequence variants were three-fold more common relative to control subjects in both CVS groups (P = 0.01 combined data) and in MO (P = 0.02), but not in MA (P = 0.5 vs. control subjects and 0.02 vs. MO). No group differences were noted in the remainder of HV1. We conclude that sequence variation in this small "peri-TAS" segment is associated with CVS and MO, but not MA. These variants likely constitute risk factors for disease development. Our findings are consistent with previous data demonstrating progression of CVS into MO in many cases, and the co-segregation in a maternal inheritance pattern of CVS and MO within families. A mitochondrial component in the pathogenesis of migraine and CVS has therapeutic implications, especially concerning the avoidance of fasting.

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