Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Postural tachycardia syndrome and gluten?

Please use your full stops wisely.
I believe that this is the first time that I've talked about postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS) on this blog as I bring to your attention some rather intriguing findings reported by Hugo Penny and colleagues [1] on how PoTS and gluten-related disorders might not be unstrange diagnostic bedfellows.

PoTS by the way, describes symptoms where standing upright / sitting down induces dizziness, fainting and other symptoms. As well as being quite prevalent in a certain condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (see here), PoTS is also described fairly frequently in cases of chronic fatigue syndrome / myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) too.

Describing how "patients with postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS) were placing themselves on a gluten-free diet without medical consultation" the authorship team (mentioned previously on this blog) residing in the great city of Sheffield decided to look-see whether there may be underlying medical reasons why such gluten-free moves seemed to be used in cases of PoTS. They screened their 100 participants with PoTS "for gluten sensitivity, related symptoms and dietary habits" as well as assessing for coeliac disease, the archetypal gluten-related autoimmune condition.

Results: compared with a couple of control groups numbering in total above 1500 local participants, coeliac disease (CD) seemed to be more common in the PoTS groups - "serology and biopsy-proven coeliac disease." Alongside: "PoTS patients also had a higher prevalence of self-reported gluten sensitivity... compared with age-matched and sex-matched controls." The authors conclude that there may be more to see when it comes to the presence of classical and non-classical gluten-related disorders in relation to PoTS.

This is potentially important stuff. Accepting that outside of the immediate dizziness and fainting symptoms associated with PoTS there may be other 'gastrointestinal' involvement [2] the intriguing idea that [certain] symptoms might be to some degree alleviated by use of a dietary change is worthy of greater inspection. Indeed, set within the context of an associated diagnostic label, orthostatic intolerance, where an upright posture provokes related symptoms, also being potentially linked to gastrointestinal issues [3] one has an interesting template as to how gut and brain might show some important links. That a gluten-free diet will most likely target both gut and brain (yes, it might) provides plenty of food for thought as to possible mechanisms.

I'm also pretty interested in the growing research base looking at a possible autoimmune component to at least some cases of PoTS [4]. I know this takes us into some 'brow-furrowing' areas of peer-reviewed science [5] (indeed, complicated science) but the potential importance of cases of autoimmune PoTS intersecting with cases of autoimmune coeliac disease provides yet another example of how birds of an autoimmune feather tend to flock together (see here). The implication being that cases of PoTS should perhaps be screened for CD and other autoimmune disease/features and perhaps treated accordingly, offers some new directions for research and clinical practice.

And just in case you are still convinced that use of a gluten-free diet outside of CD is all bunk, the worm still continues to turn...

To close, 'Shatner's Bassoon'. That is all.

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[1] Penny HA. et al. Is there a relationship between gluten sensitivity and postural tachycardia syndrome? Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016 Sep 7.

[2] Wang LB. et al. Gastrointestinal dysfunction in postural tachycardia syndrome. J Neurol Sci. 2015 Dec 15;359(1-2):193-6.

[3] Sullivan SD. et al. Gastrointestinal symptoms associated with orthostatic intolerance. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2005 Apr;40(4):425-8.

[4] Thieben MJ. et al. Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome: the Mayo clinic experience. Mayo Clin Proc. 2007 Mar;82(3):308-13.

[5] Blitshteyn S. & Brook J. Postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS) with anti-NMDA receptor antibodies after human papillomavirus vaccination. Immunol Res. 2016 Aug 25.

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ResearchBlogging.org Penny, H., Aziz, I., Ferrar, M., Atkinson, J., Hoggard, N., Hadjivassiliou, M., West, J., & Sanders, D. (2016). Is there a relationship between gluten sensitivity and postural tachycardia syndrome? European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology DOI: 10.1097/MEG.0000000000000740