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article imageMouth bacteria linked to migraines

By Tim Sandle     Oct 25, 2016 in Health
Migraines are triggered by many different factors, from lack of sleep, stress and by certain foods. A new study indicates that the microorganisms resident in the mouth may also play a part.
A migraine is not an ordinary headache. The condition is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and increased sensitivity to light or sound, and the effects can last for several days. Sometimes there is also an aura, a pattern of flashing lights.
In a new study, scientists from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine have drawn a connection between migraines and the microbiome of the mouth. The microbiome refers to a collection of microorganisms residing within a particular niche. While there are some general patterns, the balance of microorganisms can vary between people. The new research has drawn a connection between migraines and types of bacteria that reduce nitrates. Denitrifying bacteria metabolise nitrogenous compounds in order to turn oxides back to nitrogen gas or nitrous oxides. The organisms do this for energy generation.
Investigations led by Dr. Antonio Gonzalez indicated that the mouths of people with migraines had significantly more bacteria in their mouths, as well as in their intestines, that are involved in modifying nitrates when compared with people who do not suffer from migraines. This discovery was made by genetically sequencing 172 oral samples of bacteria and some 2,000 fecal samples from volunteers.
By applying computer programs (the science of bioinformatics, in this case a tool called PICRUSt), the researchers discovered a high proportion of genes that function to encode specific enzymes — nitrate, nitrite and nitric oxide reductases — in association with migraine sufferers.
Interestingly this correlates with observations that certain foods trigger migraines. Migraine trigger foods — chocolate, wine, and so on — are high in nitrates. It is thought that an excess of nitric oxide might be linked with migraines.
Speaking with Net Doctor about the research, Dr. Embriette Hyde, who works for the American Gut Project, commented: “We know for a fact that nitrate reducing bacteria are found in the oral cavity…We now also have a potential connection to migraines, though it remains to be seen whether these bacteria are a cause or result of migraines, or are indirectly linked in some other way.”
For the next phase of research, the science team aims to perform a controlled diet study in groups of people with different types of migraines to see if nitric oxide levels in the blood are linked to migraine episodes.
The research findings were published in the journal mSystems. The research is titled “Migraines Are Correlated with Higher Levels of Nitrate-, Nitrite-, and Nitric Oxide-Reducing Oral Microbes in the American Gut Project Cohort.”
More about Migraines, Bacteria, Mouth, Oral, oral bacteria
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