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J Neurol. 2014 Feb;261(2):350-7. doi: 10.1007/s00415-013-7201-y. Epub 2013 Dec 4.

Structural brain MRI abnormalities in pediatric patients with migraine.

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Division of Neuroscience, Neuroimaging Research Unit, Institute of Experimental Neurology, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Via Olgettina, 60, 20132, Milan, Italy.


Morphometric MRI studies in adult patients with migraine have consistently demonstrated atrophy of several gray matter (GM) regions involved in pain processing. We explored the regional distribution of GM and white matter (WM) abnormalities in pediatric patients with episodic migraine and their correlations with disease clinical manifestations. Using a 3.0 T scanner, brain T2-weighted and 3D T1-weighted scans were acquired from 12 pediatric migraine patients and 15 age-matched healthy controls. GM and WM volumetric abnormalities were estimated using voxel-based morphometry (p < 0.05, family-wise error corrected). Compared to controls, pediatric migraine patients experienced a significant GM atrophy of several regions of the frontal and temporal lobes which are part of the pain-processing network. They also had an increased volume of the right putamen. The left fusiform gyrus had an increased volume in patients with aura compared to patients without aura and controls, whereas it was significantly atrophied in patients without aura when compared to the other two groups. No abnormalities of WM volume were detected. In migraine patients, regional GM atrophy was not correlated with disease duration and attack frequency, whereas a negative correlation was found between increased volume of the putamen and disease duration (r = -0.95, p < 0.05). These results show that GM morphometric abnormalities do occur in pediatric patients with migraine. The presence of such abnormalities early in the disease course, and the absence of correlation with patient clinical characteristics suggest that they may represent a phenotypic biomarker of this condition.

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