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Aminergic Tone Correlates of Migraine and Tension-type Headache: A Study Using the Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire

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Background.—Aminergic neurotransmitter activity has been studied in many neuropsychiatric diseases by means of a self-administered questionnaire proposed by Cloninger. Given that central aminergic modulation plays a major role in the pathophysiology of primary headaches, we investigated the personality dimensions related to aminergic neurotransmitter activity in patients with migraine and tension-type headache.

Methods.—From a consecutive series of 230 patients, we selected those presenting with migraine and tension-type headache according to the International Headache Society criteria. All patients were assessed by means of the Cloninger 100-item self-report Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire and a depression scale. The four dimensions of personality are novelty seeking (dopaminergic), harm avoidance (serotonergic), reward dependence (noradrenergic), and persistence (glutaminergic).

Results.—One hundred twenty-one patients presenting with migraine and 42 with tension-type headache were recruited. The results indicate significantly higher harm avoidance scores (P<.001) in both patients with migraine and those with tension-type headache than in controls. Furthermore, patients with migraine had a significantly low score in the novelty seeking dimension (P<.001). When we compared only the two groups of patients with headache, we found that the persistence dimension alone was significantly higher in patients with migraine than in those with tension-type headache (P<.05). No differences were observed either in the overall scores of the other personality dimensions or in the depression scale scores.

Conclusions.—The Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire results support a role of the serotonergic system in both migraine and tension-type headache pathophysiology. A dysfunction of dopaminergic and glutaminergic tone seems to be a specific feature of migraine.
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Keywords: Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire; aminergic tone; migraine; tension-type headache

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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