Migraineurs without aura show microstructural abnormalities in the cerebellum and frontal lobe
The involvement of the cerebellum in migraine pathophysiology is not well understood. We used a biparametric approach at high-field MRI (3 T) to assess the structural integrity of the cerebellum in 15 migraineurs with aura (MWA), 23 migraineurs without aura (MWoA), and 20 healthy controls (HC). High-resolution T1 relaxation maps were acquired together with magnetization transfer images in order to probe microstructural and myelin integrity. Clusterwise analysis was performed on T1 and magnetization transfer ratio (MTR) maps of the cerebellum of MWA, MWoA, and HC using an ANOVA and a non-parametric clusterwise permutation F test, with age and gender as covariates and correction for familywise error rate. In addition, mean MTR and T1 in frontal regions known to be highly connected to the cerebellum were computed. Clusterwise comparison among groups showed a cluster of lower MTR in the right Crus I of MWoA patients vs. HC and MWA subjects (p = 0.04). Univariate and bivariate analysis on T1 and MTR contrasts showed that MWoA patients had longer T1 and lower MTR in the right and left pars orbitalis compared to MWA (p < 0.01 and 0.05, respectively), but no differences were found with HC. Lower MTR and longer T1 point at a loss of macromolecules and/or micro-edema in Crus I and pars orbitalis in MWoA patients vs. HC and vs. MWA. The pathophysiological implications of these findings are discussed in light of recent literature.