Common Variant Burden Contributes to the Familial Aggregation of Migraine in 1,589 Families

D.I. Boomsma, L. Ligthart, Danielle Posthuma, 23Andme Research Team

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Complex traits, including migraine, often aggregate in families, but the underlying genetic architecture behind this is not well understood. The aggregation could be explained by rare, penetrant variants that segregate according to Mendelian inheritance or by the sufficient polygenic accumulation of common variants, each with an individually small effect, or a combination of the two hypotheses. In 8,319 individuals across 1,589 migraine families, we calculated migraine polygenic risk scores (PRS) and found a significantly higher common variant burden in familial cases (n = 5,317, OR = 1.76, 95% CI = 1.71–1.81, p = 1.7 × 10 −109 ) compared to population cases from the FINRISK cohort (n = 1,101, OR = 1.32, 95% CI = 1.25–1.38, p = 7.2 × 10 −17 ). The PRS explained 1.6% of the phenotypic variance in the population cases and 3.5% in the familial cases (including 2.9% for migraine without aura, 5.5% for migraine with typical aura, and 8.2% for hemiplegic migraine). The results demonstrate a significant contribution of common polygenic variation to the familial aggregation of migraine. Gormley et al. use polygenic risk scores to show that common variation, captured by genome-wide association studies, in combination contributes to the aggregation of migraine in families. The results may have similar implications for other complex traits in general.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)743-753.e4
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2018


  • disease aggregation
  • familial aggregation
  • families
  • genome-wide association study
  • GWAS
  • hemiplegic migraine
  • migraine
  • migraine with aura
  • polygenic risk score
  • PRS

Cohort Studies

  • Netherlands Twin Register (NTR)


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