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Microstructural changes in the trigeminal nerve of patients with episodic migraine assessed using magnetic resonance imaging.

  • Author(s): Mungoven, Tiffani J;
  • Meylakh, Noemi;
  • Marciszewski, Kasia K;
  • Macefield, Vaughan G;
  • Macey, Paul M;
  • Henderson, Luke A
  • et al.

BACKGROUND:There is histological evidence of microstructural changes in the zygomaticotemporal branch of the trigeminal nerve in migraineurs. This raises the possibility that altered trigeminal nerve properties contribute to migraine pathophysiology. Whilst it is not possible to explore the anatomy of small trigeminal nerve branches it is possible to explore the anatomy of the trigeminal root entry zone using magnetic resonance imaging in humans. The aim of this investigation is to assess the microstructure of the trigeminal nerve in vivo to determine if nerve alterations occur in individuals with episodic migraine. METHODS:In 39 migraineurs and 39 matched controls, T1-weighted anatomical images were used to calculate the volume (mm3) and maximal cross-sectional area of the trigeminal nerve root entry zone; diffusion tensor images were used to calculate fractional anisotropy, mean diffusion, axial diffusion and radial diffusion. RESULTS:There were significant differences between the left and right nerve of controls and migraineurs with respect to volume and not cross-sectional area. Migraineurs displayed reduced axial diffusion in the right nerve compared to the left nerve, and reduced fractional anisotropy in the left nerve compared to left controls. Furthermore, although there were no differences in mean diffusion or radial diffusion, regional analysis of the nerve revealed significantly greater radial diffusion in the middle and rostral portion of the left trigeminal nerve in migraineurs compared with controls. CONCLUSIONS:Migraine pathophysiology is associated with microstructural abnormalities within the trigeminal nerve that are consistent with histological evidence of altered myelin and/or organization. These peripheral nerve changes may provide further insight into migraine pathophysiology and enable a greater understanding for targeted treatments of pain alleviation.

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