Hereditary Haemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT) or Rendu-Osler-Weber syndrome, is an autosomal dominant rare disease characterized by localized angiodysplasia. This is manifested as epistaxis, mucocutaneous and gastrointestinal telangiectases, and arteriovenous malformations in the pulmonary, cerebral or hepatic circulation. The prevalence is between 1 in 5,000 to 8,000, although it is higher in some regions.
The most frequent clinical manifestation of HHT is epistaxis, normally from light to moderate from the 4th decade of life. However, many patients show severe epistaxis which may interfere with their quality of life. The epistaxis is due to telangiectasia on the nasal mucosa. These are focally dilated postcapilar venules, which in advanced phases show many layers of smooth muscle cells without elastic fibers, and very frequently directly connect with dilated arterioles. As a consequence of these vascular alterations, telangiectases are very sensitive to slight trauma and even to the friction with the air when breathing, which gives rise to nose bleeds.
Unfortunately, there is no optimal pharmacological treatment for the epistaxis in HHT. The use of antifibrinolytic agents for the treatment of HHT has been studied recently by our group as an effective relief for nasal and gastric haemorrhages. This work represents a systematic review and the begining of a systematic laboratory work we are now conducting in our lab to screen for “orphan drugs” as therapeutic agents in HHT. In this context, the use of hormones, immunosuppresants and anti-angiogenic agents are under preclinical study in our laboratory.