Migraine and tension headaches could share some genetic links with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to recent study results presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Vancouver, Canada.
The study analyzed data on 107 patients with episodic migraine, 53 with tension-type headache, 107 with IBS, and 53 without any of these conditions. After examining the migraine and tension headache participants for IBS symptoms and asking the participants with IBS about headaches, the researchers found that 54% of the migraine group and 28% of those in the tension headache group also had IBS and that of the patients with IBS, 38% also had migraine and 24%, tension headache. The research team also looked at the participants’ serotonin transporter gene and the serotonin receptor 2A gene, finding that patients in the IBS, migraine, and tension headache groups had at least 1 gene that differed from those of the healthy participants.
“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,” said study author Derya Uluduz, MD, in a press release. “Further studies are needed to explore this possible link. Discovering shared genes may lead to more future treatment strategies for these chronic conditions.”