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Twin Res Hum Genet. 2006 Feb;9(1):54-63.

Migraine with aura and migraine without aura are not distinct entities: further evidence from a large Dutch population study.

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Department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, Netherlands.


It is often debated whether migraine with aura (MA) and migraine without aura (MO) are etiologically distinct disorders. A previous study using latent class analysis (LCA) in Australian twins showed no evidence for separate subtypes of MO and MA. The aim of the present study was to replicate these results in a population of Dutch twins and their parents, siblings and partners (N = 10,144). Latent class analysis of International Headache Society (IHS)-based migraine symptoms resulted in the identification of 4 classes: a class of unaffected subjects (class 0), a mild form of nonmigrainous headache (class 1), a moderately severe type of migraine (class 2), typically without neurological symptoms or aura (8% reporting aura symptoms), and a severe type of migraine (class 3), typically with neurological symptoms, and aura symptoms in approximately half of the cases. Given the overlap of neurological symptoms and nonmutual exclusivity of aura symptoms, these results do not support the MO and MA subtypes as being etiologically distinct. The heritability in female twins of migraine based on LCA classification was estimated at .50 (95% confidence intervals [CI] .27 - .59), similar to IHS-based migraine diagnosis (h2 = .49, 95% CI .19-.57). However, using a dichotomous classification (affected-unaffected) decreased heritability for the IHS-based classification (h2 = .33, 95% CI .00-.60), but not the LCA-based classification (h2 = .51, 95% CI .23-.61). Importantly, use of the LCA-based classification increased the number of subjects classified as affected. The heritability of the screening question was similar to more detailed LCA and IHS classifications, suggesting that the screening procedure is an important determining factor in genetic studies of migraine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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