Significant differences in gene expression of GABA receptors in peripheral blood leukocytes of migraineurs



Publication Details

Plummer, P. N., Colson, N. J., Lewohl, J. M., Mackay, R. K., Fernandez, F., Haupt, L. M. & Griffiths, L. R. 2011, 'Significant differences in gene expression of GABA receptors in peripheral blood leukocytes of migraineurs', Gene, vol. 490, no. 1-2, pp. 32-36.


Migraine is a debilitating neurovascular disorder, with a substantial genetic component. The exact cause of a migraine attack is unknown; however cortical hyperexcitability is thought to play a role. As Gamma-aminobutyric Acid (GABA) is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, malfunctioning of this system may be a cause of the hyperexcitability. To date, there has been limited research examining the gene expression or genetics of GABA receptors in relation to migraine. The aim of our study was to determine if GABA receptors play a role in migraine by investigating their gene expression using profile in migraine affected individuals and non-affected controls by Q-PCR. Gene expression of GABA(A) receptor subunit isoforms (GABRA3, GABRB3, GABRQ) and GABA(B) receptor 2 (GABBR2) was quantified in mRNA obtained from peripheral blood leukocytes from 28 migraine subjects and 22 healthy control subjects. Analysis of results showed that two of the tested genes, GABRA3 and GABBR2, were significantly down regulated in migraineurs (P=0.018; P=0.017), compared to controls. Results from the other tested genes did not show significant gene expression variation. The results indicate that there may be specific GABA receptor gene expression variation in migraine, particularly involving the GABRA3 and GABBR2 genes. This study also identifies GABRA3 and GABBR2 as potential biomarkers to select migraineurs that may be more responsive to GABA agonists with future investigations in this area warranted

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