(HealthDay News) — Researchers report that measuring serum levels of sphingolipids might one day help identify women at high risk for migraines. The findings were published online September 9 in Neurology.

B. Lee Peterlin, DO, associate professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues assessed 52 women with episodic migraine (average of nearly six migraines a month) and 36 women who did not have migraines. High-performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry using multiple reaction monitoring was employed to detect and quantify sphingolipids.

The researchers found that women with episodic migraines had lower levels of ceramides than those who did not have headaches. Every standard deviation increase in ceramide levels was associated with about a 92% lower risk of migraine. After adjustments, every standard deviation increase in the sphingomyelin species C18:0 and C18:1 was associated with increased odds of migraine. The researchers also tested the blood of a random sample of 14 of the participants and, based on these blood lipid levels, correctly identified which women had migraines and which women did not.

In an editorial accompanying the study, Karl Ekbom, MD, PhD, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, writes: “This study is a very important contribution to our understanding of the underpinnings of migraine and may have wide-ranging effects in diagnosing and treating migraine if the results are replicated in further studies.”

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)
Editorial (subscription or payment may be required)