An fMRI-based neural marker for migraine without aura
Objective To identify and validate an fMRI-based neural marker for migraine without aura (MwoA) and to examine its association with treatment response. Methods We conducted cross-sectional studies with resting-state fMRI data from 230 participants and machine learning analyses. In studies 1 through 3, we identified, cross-validated, independently validated, and cross-sectionally validated an fMRI-based neural marker for MwoA. In study 4, we assessed the relationship between the neural marker and treatment responses in migraineurs who received a 4-week real or sham acupuncture treatment, or were waitlisted, in a registered clinical trial. Results In study 1 (n = 116), we identified a neural marker with abnormal functional connectivity within the visual, default mode, sensorimotor, and frontal-parietal networks that could discriminate migraineurs from healthy controls (HCs) with 93% sensitivity and 89% specificity. In study 2 (n = 38), we investigated the generalizability of the marker by applying it to an independent cohort of migraineurs and HCs and achieved 84% sensitivity and specificity. In study 3 (n = 76), we verified the specificity of the marker with new datasets of migraineurs and patients with other chronic pain disorders (chronic low back pain and fibromyalgia) and demonstrated 78% sensitivity and 76% specificity for discriminating migraineurs from nonmigraineurs. In study 4 (n = 116), we found that the changes in the marker responses showed significant correlation with the changes in headache frequency in response to real acupuncture. Conclusion We identified an fMRI-based neural marker that captures distinct characteristics of MwoA and can link disease pattern changes to brain changes.