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J Pathol. 2006 Jul;209(3):411-9.

EXT-related pathways are not involved in the pathogenesis of dysplasia epiphysealis hemimelica and metachondromatosis.

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Department of Pathology, Leiden University Medical Centre, The Netherlands.


Dysplasia epiphysealis hemimelica (DEH) and metachondromatosis (MC) are considered in the differential diagnosis of solitary and hereditary osteochondromas. Both are rare disorders with DEH demonstrating cartilaginous overgrowth of an epiphysis and MC exhibiting synchronous enchondromas and osteochondromas. Ten cases of DEH and two of MC were compared with osteochondromas at the histological and molecular level. Histologically, clumping of chondrocytes within a fibrillary chondroid matrix is characteristic of DEH, while osteochondromas and MC display the characteristic growth plate architecture. Using cDNA microarray analysis we demonstrate that DEH and MC cluster separately from osteochondromas and growth plates. The EXT genes, involved in the hereditary multiple osteochondromas syndrome, and downregulated in osteochondroma, were normally expressed in DEH and MC as shown by quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). EXT is involved in heparan sulphate biosynthesis, important for Indian Hedgehog/ParaThyroid Hormone Like Hormone (IHH/PTHLH) growth plate signalling pathways. IHH/PTHLH signalling molecules were expressed in DEH and MC as shown by both qPCR and immunohistochemistry, suggesting that this pathway is active. This is in contrast to osteochondroma, in which PTHLH signalling is downregulated. Thus, lesions of DEH and MC are separate entities from osteochondroma as confirmed by their different cDNA and protein expression profiles. Downstream targets of EXT, which are downregulated in osteochondroma, are expressed in DEH and MC, suggesting that EXT signalling is not disturbed.

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