Treatment of migraine in patients with CADASIL: A systematic review and meta-analysis


Migraine is a common and often refractory feature for individuals with cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL) without consensus guidelines for treatment. Migraine treatment poses a theoretical risk within this unique population with precarious cerebrovascular autoregulation, given the vasomodulatory influence of many antimigraine medications. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we evaluate the frequency and efficacy of treatments for migraine in individuals with CADASIL.


A search protocol was designed to include all available publications reporting antimigraine therapies for CADASIL. Individual responses to medications were categorized as unfavorable, neutral, or favorable. Responses across medication classes were compared using the Mann-Whitney U test.


Thirteen studies were included, yielding a cohort of 123 individuals with a median age of 53 years (range: 23–83 years), with 61% (75/123) being women. No controlled trials were identified. Simple analgesics (35.8%, 44/123) and beta-blockers (22.0%, 27/123) were the most common abortive and prophylactic strategies, respectively. Over half (54.4%) of all patients had used more than 1 medication sequentially or concomitantly. Beta-blockers were significantly associated with a neutral or unfavorable response (13.5%, 22/163, p = 0.004). We found no significant associations among other medication categories.


Migraine in CADASIL remains a formidable therapeutic challenge, with patients often tried on several medications. Antimigraine prophylaxis with beta-blockers may be contraindicated relative to other common therapies in CADASIL. Controlled studies are needed to rigorously evaluate the safety and efficacy of antimigraine therapies in this population.

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