The following is a summary of “Serum tau protein elevation in migraine: a cross-sectional case–control study,” published in the September 2023 issue of Pain by Overeem et al.
Migraine is a neuroinflammatory disorder linked to tau protein, which influences CGRP, a key migraine neurotransmitter. Researchers performed a retrospective study comparing total-tau protein serum concentrations in migraine patients and healthy controls.
They examined interictal blood samples from 92 patients with episodic migraine (EM), 93 patients with chronic migraine (CM), and 42 healthy matched controls (HC). Serum concentrations of total-tau protein (t-tau), neurofilament light chain protein (NfL), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), and ubiquitin carboxy-terminal hydrolase L (UCH-L1) were measured using the Neurology 4-plex kit on a single molecule array HD-X Analyzer (Quanterix Corp Lexington, MA). Matched serum/cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples were used to retrospectively examine the central nervous system (CNS) as a potential source of relevant findings. Non-parametric tests were applied to compare groups and evaluate correlations.
The results showed that serum t-tau concentrations were higher in EM [0.320 (0.204 to 0.466) pg/mL] and CM [0.304 (0.158 to 0.406) pg/mL] patients compared to HC [0.200 (0.114 to 0.288) pg/mL] (P=0.002 vs. EM; P=0.025 vs. CM). EM with aura [0.291 (0.184 to 0.486 pg/mL); P=0.013] and EM without aura [0.332 (0.234 to 0.449) pg/mL; P=0.008] patients had higher t-tau levels than HC but did not differ from each other. In the subgroup analysis, CM with/without preventive treatment had elevated t-tau levels compared to HC. However, this difference was significant only in the non-prevention group [0.322 (0.181 to 0.463) pg/mL; P=0.009]. T-tau was elevated in serum (P=0.028) but not cerebrospinal fluid (P=0.760). In contrast to t-tau, all proteins associated with cell damage (NfL, GFAP, and UCH-L1) did not show significant differences between the groups.
They concluded that serum tau protein is elevated in migraine patients, suggesting a new target for migraine research.