Migraine and tension headaches may have genetic links in common with irritable bowel syndrome, according to results from a preliminary study released in advance of the American Academy of Neurology’s 68th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada.
“Since headache and irritable bowel syndrome are such common conditions, and causes for both are unknown, discovering a possible link that could shed light on shared genetics of the conditions is encouraging,” Derya Uluduz, MD, of Istanbul University in Turkey, said in a press release.
Uluduz and colleagues evaluated 107 people with episodic migraine, 53 with tension-type headache, 107 with IBS and 53 healthy participants. They examined patients with headaches for IBS symptoms and questioned patients with IBS about headaches.
The research team found participants with migraine had twice the risk for IBS compared with those who had tension headache. Overall, 54% of participants with migraine also had IBS compared with 28% of participants with tension headache, and among those with IBS, 38 and 24 also had migraine and tension headache, respectively.
Notably, the researchers found that participants in the IBS, migraine and tension headache groups all shared at least one gene that differed from the healthy participants’ genes, after evaluating the serotonin transporter gene and the serotonin receptor 2A gene.
“Further studies are needed to explore this possible link,” Uluduz said in the press release. “Discovering shared genes may lead to more future treatment strategies for these chronic conditions.”
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