BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The thalamus exerts a pivotal role in pain processing and cortical excitability control, and migraine is characterized by repeated pain attacks and abnormal cortical habituation to excitatory stimuli. This work aimed at studying the microstructure of the thalamus in migraine patients using an innovative multiparametric approach at high-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
DESIGN: We examined 37 migraineurs (22 without aura, MWoA, and 15 with aura, MWA) as well as 20 healthy controls (HC) in a 3-T MRI equipped with a 32-channel coil. We acquired whole-brain T1 relaxation maps and computed magnetization transfer ratio (MTR), generalized fractional anisotropy, and T2* maps to probe microstructural and connectivity integrity and to assess iron deposition. We also correlated the obtained parametric values with the average monthly frequency of migraine attacks and disease duration.
RESULTS: T1 relaxation time was significantly shorter in the thalamus of MWA patients compared with MWoA (P CONCLUSIONS: There are broad microstructural alterations in the thalamus of MWA patients that may underlie abnormal cortical excitability control leading to cortical spreading depression and visual aura.