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Iron Deposition a Potential Biomarker for Migraine

Neurology; 2019 Mar; Domínguez, López, et al

Patients with chronic migraine (CM) showed increased iron deposition in red nucleus (RN) and periaqueductal gray matter (PAG) compared to patients with episodic migraine (EM) and controls, a recent study found. Iron grounds volume in PAG identified correctly patients with CM and was associated with elevated biomarkers of endothelial dysfunction and blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption. This case-control study included 112 patients with migraine (55 CM, 57 EM) and 25 headache-free controls. Researchers analyzed iron deposition using 3T MRI and the NIH software platform ImageJ; they analyzed serum levels of markers of inflammation, endothelial dysfunction, and BBB disruption by ELISA in peripheral blood during interictal periods. They found:

  • Patients with CM showed larger iron grounds volume in RN compared to patients with EM and controls, as well as larger iron deposits in PAG compared to patients with EM and controls.
  • In PAG, differences were also significant between patients with EM and controls.
  • No significant differences were obtained for globus pallidus (GP).


Domínguez C, López A, Ramos-Cabrer P, et al. Iron deposition in periaqueductal gray matter as a potential biomarker for chronic migraine. Neurology. 2019;92(10):e1076-e1085. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000007047.