Lesions of the brain microvessels
Lesions of the brain microvessels, visible on cerebral MRI images, can be of various kinds: white-matter hyperintensities and, more rarely, silent infarcts leading to loss of white-matter tissue.
They result from a deterioration of the small cerebral arteries that supply blood to the brain's white matter, the material which ensures, among other things, the passage of information between different parts of the brain.
These lesions are observed in almost all elderly people. However, their severity varies greatly from one individual to the next. Moreover, it has been shown that they are more severe among hypertension sufferers and diabetics.
A large quantity of hyperintensities leads to many cerebral complications: cognitive deterioration, increased risk of Alzheimer's disease, depression, movement disorders and increased risk of stroke.
Moreover, according to several studies, the presence of a large quantity of this type of brain lesion increases the risk of cognitive deterioration (reasoning, memory, etc.) and of Alzheimer's disease. This is why the research team coordinated by Christophe Tzourio, director of the Inserm-Université Pierre et Marie Curie Mixed Research Unit 708 "Neuroepidemiology", advanced the hypothesis that migraines could "damage" the brain.
To test this hypothesis, the researchers evaluated the impact of migraine on cognitive function. The team used the EVA study-group of individuals aged over 65 years, recruited from the general population in Nantes, and monitored them over a 10-year period. Cerebral MRI was performed on more than 800 of the participants and these individuals were also questioned about their headaches by a neurologist. "The advantage of this cohort is that it involves relatively elderly individuals. However, since migraine often begins before age 30, if it did indeed have a deleterious and cumulative effect on the brain, then we should observe cerebral damage and a higher level of cognitive decline among the migraine sufferers", explains Christophe Tzourio.
The cognitive tests performed, involved an evaluation of the volunteers orientation in time and space, their short-term memory and their capacity and speed to correctly carry out specific tasks.
The results show that 21% of people suffer or have suffered from severe headaches over the course of their lives. For more than 70% of these, this involves migraines, some of which are with aura (see box below). The MRI scans for those participants having severe headaches confirm that they are twice as likely to have a large quantity of microvascular brain lesions as subjects without headaches.
In contrast, the cognitive scores were identical for individuals with or without severe headaches and for those having or not having cerebral microvascular lesions.
Among participants having a migraine with aura (2% of the total sample), a specific increase in silent cerebral infarcts and certain lesions was observed, hence confirming previous studies, but without detectable cognitive harm.
"This is a very reassuring result for the many people who suffer from migraine. In spite of the increased presence of lesions of the brain microvessels, this disorder does not increase the risk of cognitive decline. Therefore, we have not observed negative consequences of migraine on the brain ", concludes Tobias Kurth, lead author of the study, who designed and carried out these analyses.
Migraine and brain lesions: a suspected link
Headaches (or cephalgias) are very common among the general population. This is particularly the case for migraine, a very painful, chronic and debilitating variety of headaches. It is estimated that around 12% of adults and 5 to 10% of children are afflicted, which represents 11 million migraine sufferers in France. There are two types of migraine, migraine without aura, by far the most frequent, and migraine with aura (15% of migraines). Migraine aura involves the appearance of, often visual, phenomena (zigzag lines of light, the impression of viewing the world through frosted glass, etc) in the minutes preceding the appearance of the headache.
The mechanisms of migraine and migraine aura are still largely unknown. However, it is suspected that a transitory contraction of the blood vessels could be responsible for a reduction of blood flow in the brain promoting the appearance of migraine aura. Much research elsewhere has shown that people suffering from migraine with aura have an increased risk of cerebral infarction (or strokes). Extremely fortunately, this risk remains low among migraine sufferers. However, the research confirms the existence of a link between migraine and blood vessels in the brain.
"Headache, Migraine, and Structural Brain Lesions and Function: the population-based EVA MRI Study "
Tobias Kurth,1,2,3 Shajahal Mohamed,1 Pauline Maillard,4 Yi-Cheng Zhu,1,2,5,6 Hugues Chabriat,5,7 Bernard Mazoyer,4,8,9,10 Marie-Germaine Bousser,5,7 Carole Dufouil,1,2 Christophe Tzourio,1,2,51 INSERM U708 – Neuroepidemiology, Paris, France
Séverine Ciancia | EurekAlert!
Oxygen can wake up dormant bacteria for antibiotic attacks
08.12.2016 | Penn State
NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology
07.12.2016 | Nanyang Technological University
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
08.12.2016 | Life Sciences
08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences