Open Access

A study of Italian families with cluster headache

  • Massimo Leone,
  • Michael Bjørn Russell,
  • Andrea Rigamonti,
  • Angelo Attanasio,
  • Licia Grazzi,
  • Domenico D'Amico,
  • Susanna Usai and
  • Gennaro Bussone
The Journal of Headache and PainOfficial Journal of the Italian Society for the Study of Headaches1:0001S165.10194


A Danish genetic study showed increased risk of cluster headache (CH) among relatives of CH patients. We studied the families of 191 CH patients (118 males, 73 females; mean age 45.9 years) attending the Milan Headache Center. Information on 3589 relatives was collected by direct interview of the probands (n = 118) or by mailed questionnaire (n = 73). The diagnostic criteria of the IHS were used. A positive family history was found in 19% (37 of 191) of the families. A total of 32 first-degree (32 of 1036, 3.1%) and 15 second-degree (15 of 2553, 0.6%) relatives were affected. The relative risk of CH was 26.89 (95% CI, 17.57–36.21) in the first-degree relatives and 4.35 (95% CI, 2.13–5.21) in second-degree relatives. This study shows increased familial risk of cluster headache in an Italian population and confirms that cluster headache is, in some families, and inherited disorder.

Key words Cluster headacheFamilial occurrenceGenetics