As per this talk by Robb Wolf at UCSF (at ~1 hour in), non-Western Huntington’s disease carriers don’t seem to express the disease. Since Huntington’s Disease is a rare genetic neurodegenerative disease, this is intriguing and suggests that the expression of the disease may be epigenetic. As he points out a few minutes later, tissue transglutaminase has been implicated in Huntington’s Disease. What does this have to do with epigenetics and PH?
Tissue transglutaminase is an enzyme that is responsible for modifying most of the body’s proteins. A key tenant of the “Paleo Diet” and similar metabolic/nutritional therapies is that consumption of dietary lectins found in grains and legumes play a role in the development of a variety of diseases by escaping into the bloodstream from the gut and triggering immune responses as well as interacting with the enzyme tissue transglutaminase. How it does all of this I will leave for another post, but for now, you can get the gist for this theory in this blog post and this talk by Robb Wolf.
Robb Wolf’s theory is that since tissue transglutaminase has such a vast role in the body, modifying proteins in all organs, than anything that affects tissue transglutaminase, can lead to conditions in a variety of organs, depending on the individual: heart condition, lung condition, brain condition, etc. He believes this accounts for the occurrence of autoimmune conditions such as Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and even rare diseases like Huntington’s Disease. The fact that a Google search for Huntington’s Disease + Transglutaminase leads to hits in the literature suggests that there may be something to this.
And when I mentioned Rheumatoid Arthritis above, that should give a red flag… since Rheumatoid Arthritis is implicated in PH. A quick Google search of Pulmonary Hypertension + Tissue Transglutaminase yields several hits…
If lectins from grains and legumes can interact with Tissue Transglutaminase in a negative way, and Tissue Transglutaminase is implicated in PH, then perhaps consumption of these substances may be harmful for those with or susceptible to PH?
In the case of Huntington’s Disease, it appears there is an upregulation of transglutaminase activity. It appears that the same occurs for PH.
More needs to be known about how exactly lectins interact with Tissue Transglutaminase. For example, does it upregulate or downregulate it’s activity? Regardless, however, the correlation is intriguing…