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Research paper
Interictal cerebral and systemic endothelial dysfunction in patients with migraine: a case–control study
  1. Roopa Rajan,
  2. Dheeraj Khurana,
  3. Vivek Lal
  1. Department of Neurology, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
  1. Correspondence to Dr Vivek Lal, Department of Neurology, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh 160012, India; vivekl44{at}


Background Although systemic endothelial function is unimpaired in migraine, it is unknown whether cerebral endothelial function impairment exists in migraineurs.

Materials and methods We conducted a prospective study to assess endothelial function in migraineurs (n=45) and healthy volunteers (n=44). Cerebral endothelial function was assessed by Breath Holding Index (BHI) on transcranial Doppler in bilateral middle cerebral artery (MCA at 30–60 mm), posterior cerebral artery (PCA at 60–80 mm) and basilar artery (BA at 80–120 mm) using bilateral monitoring probes fixed on headband. Brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD) was used as measure of systemic endothelial function.

Results There was no difference in baseline mean velocities of MCA, PCA, BA among migraineurs and controls. Mean BHI was significantly lower in PCA (p<0.001) and BA (p<0.001) in patients with migraine with no difference in MCA (p=0.909, 0.450). Cerebral endothelial dysfunction (BHI<1.15) was present in 62.2% of migraineurs in the right PCA (p<0.001), 57.8% in left PCA (p<0.001) and 77.8% in BA (BHI <0.83, p<0.001). There was no difference in BHI among migraineurs without and with aura (n=15). Cerebral and systemic endothelial function had no correlation in migraineurs. Increasing BMI was identified as a predictor of impaired BHI in the BA in migraineurs (p=0.020). Age, sex, presence of aura, lateralisation of headache, headache frequency, time to last attack and impaired FMD were not associated with impaired PCA and BA BHI in migraineurs.

Conclusions Migraineurs may have isolated cerebral endothelial dysfunction restricted to the posterior circulation in the absence of systemic endothelial dysfunction.


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