More MS news articles for Aug 2001

No Association Detected Between Immunological Disorders, Migraine

WESTPORT, CT (Reuters Health) Aug 20 - The available clinical literature does not support the theory that the immune system plays a role in migraine precipitation, a Dutch team of reviewers has concluded.

Dr. Gert J. Ter Horst and colleagues from University Groningen note that it was recently demonstrated that "migraineurs benefit from eradication of a Helicobacter pylori infection, which substantiates a possible role for (sub-clinical) infections in precipitation of migraine." To investigate, they examined some 45 clinical investigations that reported on alterations of immune function in patients with migraine.

The reviewers explain in a recent issue of Cephalalgia that while changes in levels of serum complement and immunoglobulins, histamine, cytokines and immune cells were found in some studies, they were not corroborated by other studies. Migraineurs who had comorbid atopic disorders showed elevated levels of plasma IgE, but patients without a type I hypersensitivity did not.

"Histamine plasma levels are chronically elevated in migraineurs, and interictally decreased lymphocyte phagocytotic function and increased plasma tumor necrosis factor-alpha levels were found, and may be related to increased infection susceptibility," the team notes. "The cause of this increased susceptibility is unclear but most likely is a result of chronic stress, a well-known suppressor of the immune system."

Among vulnerable subjects, they point out, stress relief enhances immune activity and causes "a burst of circulating vasoactive compounds that function as mediators of inflammation and potential precipitators of a migraine attack."

The authors caution that because of discrepancies in the studies regarding patterns of sample collection relative to the timing of migraine, the possibility of altered immune function in migraineurs cannot be definitely excluded.

Cephalalgia 2001;21:549-557.

Copyright © 2001 Reuters Ltd