Brain networks in migraine with and without aura: An exploratory arterial spin labeling MRI study

Objectives

The aim of this exploratory study was to investigate the underlying pathomechanisms of migraine with aura (MA) and migraine without aura (MO) in the interictal phase using a connectivity analysis.

Methods

We prospectively enrolled patients who were newly diagnosed with migraine. All patients underwent brain MRI, including diffusion tensor imaging and arterial spin labeling perfusion MRI. We analyzed the differences between patients with MA and those with MO in structural connectivity based on diffusion tensor imaging and functional connectivity based on arterial spin labeling perfusion MRI using a graph theoretical analysis.

Results

We enrolled 58 patients with migraine (11 patients with MA and 47 patients with MO). There were no differences between patients with MA and those with MO in the network measures of global structural connectivity. However, differences in global functional connectivity were found between the two groups. The assortative coefficient was lower in patients with MA than in those with MO (−0.050 vs. −0.012, = .017). There were no differences in local structural and functional connectivity between patients with MA and those with MO.

Conclusion

We found differences in global functional connectivity between patients with MO and those with MA. The study of MA and MO using a connectivity analysis may shed light on migraine pathophysiology. We suggest it is worthwhile to investigate if changes in functional connectivity may serve as novel biomarkers in MA. In this regard, ASL MRI appears to be valuable in the context of network analysis, but further studies are needed to confirm our findings.

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