The following is a summary of “Increased MRI-based Brain Age in chronic migraine patients,” published in the October 2023 issue of Pain by Navarro-González et al.
Neuroimaging studies have shown that migraine is linked to brain changes, but the relationship of these changes with aging is unclear. Researchers started a retrospective study investigating whether migraine patients have a higher Brain Age Gap than healthy participants.
They trained a machine learning model to know Brain Age using 2,771 T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging scans from healthy subjects. The process involved automatic image segmentation, extracting 1,479 imaging features (both morphological and intensity-based), harmonization, feature selection, and training within a 10-fold cross-validation framework. Separate models were developed using only morphological and intensity features. All Brain Age models were applied to a discovery cohort of 247 subjects, including healthy controls (HC, n=82), episodic migraine (EM, n=91), and chronic migraine patients (CM, n=74).
The results showed that CM patients exhibited an increased Brain Age Gap compared to HC (4.16 vs -0.56 years, P=0.01). EM patients displayed a smaller Brain Age Gap, although this difference did not reach statistical significance (1.21 vs -0.56 years, P=0.19). No associations were found between the Brain Age Gap and headache/migraine frequency or disease duration. The differences in predicted age were mainly driven by brain imaging features previously linked to migraine. Analysis with morphological or intensity-based features showed distinct Brain Age biomarker patterns in migraine patients.
Investigators concluded that brain-predicted age is a sensitive biomarker of migraine that can reveal distinct aging patterns.