Purpose of review Medication-overuse headache is a secondary chronic headache disorder, evolving from an episodic primary headache type, caused by the frequent and excessive use of headache symptomatic drugs. While gene polymorphisms have been deeply investigated as susceptibility factors for migraine, little attention has been paid to medication-overuse headache genetics. In the present study we conducted a systematic review to identify, appraise and summarize the current findings of gene polymorphism association studies in medication-overuse headache. Methods A comprehensive literature search was conducted on PubMed and Web of Knowledge databases of primary studies that met the diagnostic criteria for medication-overuse headache according to the temporally-relevant Classification of Headache Disorder of the International Headache Society. Results A total of 17 candidate gene association studies focusing on medication-overuse headache were finally included in the qualitative review. Among these, 12 studies investigated the role of common gene polymorphisms as risk factors for medication-overuse headache susceptibility, six studies focused on the relationship with clinical features of medication-overuse headache patients, and four studies evaluated their role as determinants of clinical outcomes in medication-overuse headache patients. Conclusion Results of single studies show a potential role of polymorphic variants of the dopaminergic gene system or of other genes related to drug-dependence pathways as susceptibility factors for disease or as determinants of monthly drug consumption, respectively. In this systematic review, we summarize the findings of gene polymorphism association studies in medication-overuse headache and discuss the methodological issues that need to be addressed in the design of future studies.
- Journal Article