"Headache and epilepsy" - How are they connected?

Laura Papetti, Francesco Nicita, Pasquale Parisi, Alberto Spalice, Maria Pia Villa, D. G A Kasteleijn-Nolst Trenité

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The relationship between headache and seizures is a complicated one, since these two conditions are related in numerous ways.Although the nature of this association is unclear, several plausible explanations exist: the two disorders coexist by chance; headache is part (or even the sole ictal phenomenon) of seizures or the post-ictal state; both disorders share a common underlying etiology; and epilepsy mimics the symptoms of migraine (as in benign childhood epilepsy).Seizures and headaches as well as their respective primary syndromes (epilepsy and headache/migraine) share several pathophysiological mechanisms. These mechanisms especially involve neurotransmitter and ion channel dysfunctions. Also, photosensitivity seems to play a role in the connection. In order to improve the care for patients with a clinical connection between migraine and epilepsy, it is necessary to try to understand more accurately the exact pathophysiological point of connection between these two conditions. Both experimental and clinical measures are required to better understand this relationship. The development of animal models, molecular studies defining more precise genotype/phenotype correlations, and multicenter clinical studies with revision of clinical criteria for headache/epilepsy-related disorders represent the start for planning future translational research.In this paper, we review the relationship between migraine and epilepsy in terms of epidemiology and pathophysiology with regard to translational research and clinical correlations and classification.This article is part of a Special Issue entitled "The Future of Translational Epilepsy Research".

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)386-393
Number of pages8
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


  • Autonomic seizures
  • Autonomic status epilepticus
  • Epilepsy
  • Headache
  • Ictal epileptic headache
  • Migraine
  • Migralepsy
  • Tension-type headache

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neurology


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