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-0079. Reduced volume of anterior thalamic nuclei in migraineurs

  • S Magon1,
  • A May2,
  • A Stankewitz2,
  • PJ Goadsby3,
  • AR Tso3,
  • M Ashina4,
  • FM Amin4,
  • CL Seifert5,
  • M Chakravarty6,
  • J Müller1 and
  • T Sprenger1
The Journal of Headache and Pain201415(Suppl 1):F17

Published: 18 September 2014


MigraineThalamic NucleusAnterior Thalamic NucleusAbnormal VolumeLateral Dorsal


Previous studies on small samples of migraineurs have suggested subtle abnormalities of thalamic anatomy and function.


To study changes of thalamic volume and shape in a large cohort of migraineurs using a novel label-fusion based segmentation approach.


High-resolution 3D T-weighted MRI data were acquired at 3T in 131 migraineurs (31±9 years old; 109 women; monthly attack frequency: 3.2± 2.5; disease duration: 14±8.4 years) and 115 matched healthy subjects (29±7 years old; 81 women) at four international centers. The thalamus and thalamic subnuclei were segmented using a fully-automated multi-atlas approach. Deformation-based shape analysis was performed to localize thalamic surface abnormalities. To investigate group effects, ANCOVA was used (age, gender, site and brain volume as nuisance covariates; results were FDR corrected for multiple comparisons at threshold of 0.05.


We found volume reductions of the anterior, central, lateral dorsal (all FDR p<0.05) and a trend in the lateral posterior nucleus (FDR p<0.1) in migraineurs compared to controls. Patients with MwoA had by trend smaller volumes of anterior, central and lateral dorsal (all FDR<0.1) nuclei compared to controls. No significant differences were observed in patients with MwA compared with controls. No thalamic surface changes (shape analysis) and no relationship between thalamic volumes and migraine disorder duration or headache frequency was observed.


The thalamic nuclei with abnormal volumes are densely connected to the limbic system. The data hence lend support to the view that higher-order integration systems are altered in migraine. No abnormalities were found in classical somatosensory nuclei.

No conflict of interest.

Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Neurology, University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland
Institute for Systems Neuroscience, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Headache Group-Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, USA
Danish Headache Center and Department of Neurology Glostrup Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Department of Neurology, Technische Universitaet Muenchen, Muenchen, Germany
Campbell Family Institute CAMH, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada


© Magon 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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