Diffusion tensor imaging in middle-aged headache sufferers in the general population: A cross-sectional population-based imaging study in the Nord-Trøndelag health study (HUNT-MRI)
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionThe Journal of Headache and Pain. 2019, 20:78 1-15. 10.1186/s10194-019-1028-6
Background Several studies have investigated white matter with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in those suffering from headache, but so far only in clinic based samples and with conflicting results. Methods In the present study, 1006 individuals (50–66 years) from the general population (Nord-Trøndelag Health Study) participated in an imaging study of the head at 1.5 T (HUNT-MRI). Hundred and ninety-six individuals were excluded because of errors in the data acquisition or brain pathology. Two hundred and forty-six of the remaining participants reported suffering from headache (69 from migraine and 76 from tension-type headache) the year prior to the scanning. DTI data were analysed with Tract-Based Spatial Statistics and automated tractography. Type of headache, frequency of attacks and evolution of headache were investigated for an association with white matter fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), axonal diffusivity (AD), radial diffusivity (RD) and tract volume. Correction for various demographical and clinical variables were performed. Results Headache sufferers had widespread higher white matter MD, AD and RD compared to headache free individuals (n = 277). The effect sizes were mostly small with the largest seen in those with middle-age onset headache, who also had lower white matter FA. There were no associations between white matter microstructure and attack frequency or type of headache. Conclusion Middle-age onset headache may be related to a widespread process in the white matter leading to altered microstructure.