The vascular endothelium maintains a relatively vasodilated state via the release of nitric oxide (NO), a process that could be disrupted by hyperhomocysteinaemia. Since endothelial dysfunction is associated with increased systemic vascular resistance that is the hallmark of sustained arterial hypertension, we hypothesised that in patients with both hypertension and coeliac disease with hyperhomocysteinaemia (via malabsorption of essential cofactors), treatment of the latter disease could improve blood pressure (BP) control. A single patient with proven sustained hypertension and newly-diagnosed coeliac disease had baseline and post-treatment BP and endothelial function assessed by ambulatory BP monitoring (ABPM) and brachial artery forearm occlusion plethysmography respectively. This 49 year-old woman had uncomplicated sustained hypertension proven on repeated ABPM carried out 6 weeks apart (daytime mean 151/92 mm Hg and 155/95 mm Hg), and sub-clinical coeliac disease (gluten-sensitive enteropathy). Initial assessments revealed raised homocysteine levels with low normal vitamin B(12) level. It was likely that she had impaired absorption of essential cofactors for normal homocysteine metabolism. She adhered to a gluten-free diet and was give oral iron, folate and B(6) supplementations as well as B(12) injections for 3 months. Her BP had improved by 6 months and normalised by 15 months (daytime ABPM mean 128/80 mm Hg). There was parallel restoration of normal endothelial function with normalisation of her homocysteine levels. These observations suggest that sub-clinical coeliac disease related hyperhomocysteinaemia might cause endothelial dysfunction, potentially giving rise to a reversible form of hypertension. In addition, this case study supports the notion that irrespective of aetiology, endothelial dysfunction may be the precursor of hypertension. This highlights the need to resolve co-existing vascular risk factors in patients with hypertension.
Lim, P. O., Tzemos, N., Farquharson, C. A. J., Anderson, J. E., Deegan, P., MacWalter, R. S., Struthers, A. D., & MacDonald, T. M. (2002). Reversible hypertension following coeliac disease treatment: the role of moderate hyperhomocysteinaemia and vascular endothelial dysfunction. Journal of Human Hypertension, 16(6), 411-5. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.jhh.1001404