The role of the hypothalamus and the limbic system at the onset of a migraine attack has recently received significant interest. We analyzed diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) parameters of the entire hypothalamus and its subregions in 15 patients during a spontaneous migraine attack and in 20 control subjects. We also estimated the non-linear measure resting-state functional MRI BOLD signal’s complexity using Higuchi fractal dimension (FD) and correlated DTI/fMRI findings with patients’ clinical characteristics. In comparison with healthy controls, patients had significantly altered diffusivity metrics within the hypothalamus, mainly in posterior ROIs, and higher FD values in the salience network (SN). We observed a positive correlation of the hypothalamic axial diffusivity with migraine severity and FD of SN. DTI metrics of bilateral anterior hypothalamus positively correlated with the mean attack duration. Our results show plastic structural changes in the hypothalamus related to the attacks severity and the functional connectivity of the SN involved in the multidimensional neurocognitive processing of pain. Plastic changes to the hypothalamus may play a role in modulating the duration of the attack.
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- resting-state networks (RSN)
- fractal dimension (FD)
- migraine ictal
- diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)