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J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2001 May;83(4):491-5.

The association of degeneration of the intervertebral disc with 5a/6a polymorphism in the promoter of the human matrix metalloproteinase-3 gene.

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  • 1Department of Frontier Surgical Therapeutics, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Japan.


It has been suggested that matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP-3, stromelysin-1) has an important role in the degeneration of intervertebral discs (IVDs). A human MMP-3 promoter 5A/6A polymorphism was reported to be involved in the regulation of MMP-3 gene expression. We suggest that IVD degeneration is associated with 5A/6A polymorphism. We studied 54 young and 49 elderly Japanese subjects. Degeneration of the lumbar discs was graded using MRI in the younger group and by radiography in the elderly. 5A/6A polymorphism was determined by polymerase-chain reaction-based assays. We found that the 5A5A and 5A6A genotype in the elderly was associated with a significantly larger number of degenerative IVDs than the 6A6A (p < 0.05), but there was no significant difference in the young. In the elderly, the IVD degenerative scores were also distributed more highly in the 5A5A and 5A6A genotypes (p = 0.0029). Our findings indicate that the 5A allele is a possible risk factor for the acceleration of degenerative changes in the lumbar disc in the elderly.

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