Although migraine is one of the most investigated neurologic disorders, we do not have a perfect neuroimaging biomarker for its pathophysiology. One option to improve our knowledge is to study resting-state functional connectivity in and out of headache pain. However, our understanding of the functional connectivity changes during spontaneous migraine attack is partial and incomplete.
Using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging we assessed a 24-year old woman affected by migraine without aura at two different times: during a spontaneous migraine attack and in interictal phase. Seed-to-voxel whole brain analysis was carried out using the posterior cingulate cortex as a seed, representing the default mode network (DMN). Our results showed decreased intrinsic connectivity within core regions of the DMN with an exception of a subsystem including the dorsal medial and superior frontal gyri, and the mid-temporal gyrus which is responsible for pain interpretation and control. In addition, increased connectivity between the DMN and pain and specific migraine-related areas, such as the pons and hypothalamus, developed during the spontaneous migraine attack.
Our preliminary results provide further support for the hypothesis that alterations of the DMN functional connectivity during migraine headache may lead to maladaptive top-down modulation of migraine pain-related areas which might be a specific biomarker for migraine.