Reconceptualizing autonomic function testing in migraine: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Antun R Pavelić, Karin Zebenholzer, Christian Wöber

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Review article


BACKGROUND: Autonomic nervous system (ANS) testing has aided in our ability to evaluate autonomic dysfunction in migraine patients. We reviewed the literature in multiple databases which investigate ANS function in migraine patients and healthy subjects.

METHODS: This systematic review and meta-analysis examined the respective deep breathing, Valsalva manoeuvre, orthostatic and isometric challenge results, using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) and Meta-analyses of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (MOOSE) statements.

RESULTS: Seven articles met all inclusion criteria. Fixed-effects meta-analysis showed migraine patients (n = 424), collectively, had lower interictal autonomic test results compared with healthy controls (n = 268). In detail, this was true for the standardized mean difference (g) of deep breathing (g= -0.32; 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.48, -0.16), orthostatic challenge (g= -0.28; 95% CI -0.44, -0.13) and isometric challenge (g= -0.55; 95% CI -0.71, -0.39) and for the difference of means (MD) of the Valsalva ratio (MD = -0.17; 95% CI -0.23, -0.10).

CONCLUSIONS: Interictal ANS dysfunction can be identified in migraine patients when compared to healthy controls. These findings indicate the importance to evaluate ANS function in migraine patients - especially, as migraine-specific prophylactic therapies (such as anti-calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) antibodies) may affect the function of the ANS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number54
Pages (from-to)54
JournalJournal of Headache and Pain
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2024


  • Humans
  • Heart Rate/physiology
  • Migraine Disorders/diagnosis
  • Autonomic Nervous System
  • Observational Studies as Topic


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