The Journal of Headache and Pain

Official Journal of the "European Headache Federation" and of "Lifting The Burden - The Global Campaign against Headache"

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Volume 15 Supplement 1

Abstracts from the 4th European Headache and Migraine Trust International Congress: EHMTIC 2014

Open Access

EHMTI-0189. Tryptophan-kynurenine metabolism in migraine patients

  • Z Majláth1,
  • G Veres1,
  • D Zádori1,
  • A Balog2,
  • N Watti2,
  • J Tajti1 and
  • L Vécsei3
The Journal of Headache and Pain201415(Suppl 1):E17

Published: 18 September 2014


Depressive SymptomMigraineTryptophanBeck Depression InventoryPsychiatric Comorbidity


Alterations of the serotoninergic system are well-known in migraine, however, the other main route of tryptophan metabolism, the kynurenine pathway has not yet been investigated in migraine. Psychiatric comorbidity, especially depression is highly frequent in migraine patients, but the exact pathomechanism is not fully clarified.


To investigate kynurenine metabolites in migraine patients, and to assess psychiatric comorbidity.


The study was approved by the Ethical Committee of the University of Szeged. 47 migraine patients and 43 healthy controls have been involved, written informed consent was obtained from every participant. Headache patients were classified according the IHS criteria. Depression, anxiety, stress, and quality of life were assessed by validated questionnaires: the Beck Depression Inventory, the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, the SF-36, and the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Serum samples have been analyzed by HPLC.


31% of migraine patients presented depressive symptoms. Migraine patients had a significantly lower quality of life, which showed a strong correlation with psychiatric comorbidity. Tryptophan levels were significantly lower in migraineurs than in controls. Serum indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) activity, calculated by kynurenine/tryptophan ratio, was significantly higher in migraine patients with depressive symptoms, while in non-depressed patients IDO activity was not statistically different.


Psychiatric comorbidity, especially depression is highly prevalent among migraine patients, and contributes to the worsening of quality of life. The alterations in tryptophan-kynurenine metabolism might contribute to pathomechanism of migraine and depression comorbidity.

No conflict of interest.

Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Neurology, University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary
Faculty of Medicine, University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary
Neuroscience Research Group of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA – SZTE Neuroscience Research Group), University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary


© Majláth et al; licensee Springer. 2014

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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