People with migraine have more microbes in their mouth


In a recent study conducted by University of California San Diego, researchers find that people who suffer migraine have significantly more microbes in their mouth than people who do not get migraine headaches.

These microbes have the ability to modify nitrates, which may be associated with migraines. The finding is published in mSystems.

Certain foods can trigger migraines, including chocolate, wine and especially foods containing nitrates. There may be connections among what people are eating, their microbiomes and their experiences with migraines.

Researchers used publicly available data from the American Gut Project, a crowd funded citizen science project.

They sequenced bacteria in 172 oral samples and 1,996 fecal samples from healthy participants. The participants had previously filled out surveys indicating whether they suffered from migraines.

The result showed that bacterial species were different in people who get migraines and people with no migraines.

Further genetic analysis showed that in fecal samples of people with migraines, there was a slight but statistically significant increase in the abundance of genes that encode nitrate, nitrite and nitric oxide-related.

In oral samples, these genes were significantly more abundant in people with migraines.

Researchers suggest that nitrate-reducing bacteria are usually found in the oral cavity. The bacteria are related to risk of cardiovascular health. The current finding shows that the bacteria may also be associated with migraines.

In the future, researchers will look at more defined groups of patients who are separated into the handful of different types of migraines.

They will then determine if oral microbes really do express nitrate-reducing genes, measure the levels of circulating nitric oxide and see how the levels correlate with migraine status.

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Citation: Gonzalez A, et al. (2016). Migraines Are Correlated with Higher Levels of Nitrate-, Nitrite-, and Nitric Oxide-Reducing Oral Microbes in the American Gut Project Cohort. mSystems, published online, DOI: 10.1128/mSystems.00105-16.
Figure legend: This image is credited to Jenn G.