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In Frontiers in neurology

Objectives: Headache is a common symptom in systemic infections, and one of the symptoms of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The objective of this study was to characterize the phenotype of COVID-19 headache via machine learning. Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study nested in a retrospective cohort. Hospitalized patients with COVID-19 confirmed diagnosis who described headache were included in the study. Generalized Linear Models and Principal Component Analysis were employed to detect associations between intensity and self-reported disability caused by headache, quality and topography of headache, migraine features, COVID-19 symptoms, and results from laboratory tests. Results: One hundred and six patients were included in the study, with a mean age of 56.6 ± 11.2, including 68 (64.2%) females. Higher intensity and/or disability caused by headache were associated with female sex, fever, abnormal platelet count and leukocytosis, as well as migraine symptoms such as aggravation by physical activity, pulsating pain, and simultaneous photophobia and phonophobia. Pain in the frontal area (83.0% of the sample), pulsating quality, higher intensity of pain, and presence of nausea were related to lymphopenia. Pressing pain and lack of aggravation by routine physical activity were linked to low C-reactive protein and procalcitonin levels. Conclusion: Intensity and disability caused by headache attributed to COVID-19 are associated with the disease state and symptoms. Two distinct headache phenotypes were observed in relation with COVID-19 status. One phenotype seems to associate migraine symptoms with hematologic and inflammatory biomarkers of severe COVID-19; while another phenotype would link tension-type headache symptoms to milder COVID-19.

Planchuelo-Gómez Álvaro, Trigo Javier, de Luis-García Rodrigo, Guerrero Ángel L, Porta-Etessam Jesús, García-Azorín David


COVID-19, headache disorders, machine learning, migraine, tension-type headache