Arterial hypertension was linked to a later age of disease onset in Huntington’s patients in a study in Europe.
The study, “Does arterial hypertension influence the onset of Huntington’s disease?” was published in the journal PLOS One.
Previous research has shown an association between the age of onset of Huntington’s disease and the underlying genetic abnormality. Other factors, however, are also thought to contribute to age at disease onset.
Arterial hypertension has been shown to be a risk factor for other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, although the exact relationship between such hypertension and these conditions remains controversial.
To understand the impact of arterial hypertension on Huntington’s, data from 630 European adult-onset Huntington’s patients was analyzed. Among these, 86 were known to have hypertension while 544 did not.
All patients selected had similar genetic abnormalities to exclude any interference of genes.
Statistical tests were used to analyze the relationship between the age of onset of motor symptoms and arterial hypertension.
Results showed that Huntington’s patients with arterial hypertension developed motor symptoms later than those with normal blood pressure.
The average difference in age of onset was seven years: 52.5 years for Huntington’s patients with arterial hypertension versus 45 years for those with normal blood pressure.
This relationship was also observed in patients who developed arterial hypertension before Huntington’s symptoms. In fact, when researchers only looked at patients who had arterial hypertension prior to Huntington’s onset, the average difference was of 10.5 years.
Importantly, the relationship between arterial hypertension and age of onset was not significantly affected by the degree of genetic abnormality.
The study had limitations, including the high variability in blood pressure treatments and an incomplete medical records. Also, the results do not explain possible underlying mechanisms for the observed association.
Most Huntington’s patients with arterial hypertension also had been given antihypertensive medications prior to disease onset, which have been shown to have neuroprotective effects. As such, the observed delay in disease onset might be a secondary effect of such therapeutics, rather than an association between arterial hypertension and Huntington’s disease per se.
Despite these limitations, the researchers consider that their findings merit “to be reported considering the accessibility to AHT treatments and the potential impact of these drugs (or the AHT condition) in the onset of HD. We believe that the role of AHT and/or its treatment should be further examined in other HD cohorts such as ENROLL-HD and possibly in pre-clinical models,” they wrote.