Migraine in the Andes and headache at sea level.

Appenzeller O, Minko T, Qualls C, Pozharov V, Gamboa J, Gamboa A, Wang Y
Cephalalgia. 2005 25 (12): 1117-21

PMID: 16305600 · DOI:10.1111/j.1468-2982.2005.00973.x

In Cerro de Pasco (CP), Peru (altitude 4338 m) 24% of men have migraine with aura. We studied 30 men. Twenty CP natives, examined in CP, were rated using a chronic mountain sickness (CMS) score to separate controls (10) from those with CMS (10), a maladaptation syndrome in natives to altitude which includes severe, recurring headache. We collected white cells in CP and, from the same men, within 1 h of arrival in Lima (150 m above sea level). Ten normal US men volunteered white cells for comparison. After RNA extraction we assessed gene expression by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. Low ATP1A1 subunit of the ATPase gene mRNA expression in CP was correlated with headache (P=0.002), acral paraesthesias (P=0.004) and CMS score (P<0.001). ATP1A1 subunit expression was increased in all Andeans in Lima (P<0.001). There were no differences between Andean controls in Lima and US controls. Manipulation of Na+/K+ATPase could offer relief for migraineurs at sea level.

MeSH Terms (14)

Adult Altitude Atmospheric Pressure Ecuador Genetic Predisposition to Disease Headache Humans Male Migraine Disorders Prevalence Risk Assessment Risk Factors Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase United States

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