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Pathophysiology. 2008 Jun;15(1):31-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pathophys.2007.12.001. Epub 2008 Jan 22.

Pineal gland calcification, lumbar intervertebral disc degeneration and abdominal aorta calcifying atherosclerosis correlate in low back pain subjects: A cross-sectional observational CT study.

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Department of Radiology, Ankara Training and Research Hospital, 06590 Ankara, Turkey.


The goal of this cross-sectional observational study was to assess the possible impact of pineal gland calcification upon the intervertebral disc degeneration and abdominal aorta atherosclerosis in subjects with low back pain, and to investigate the course of these processes with aging. The study was carried out on 81 (66 women and 15 men) subjects: younger than 45 years (group X, n=22), 45-65 years of age (group Y, n=45), and older than 65 years (group Z, n=14). In addition to clinical data, computed tomography (CT) scan of the brain as well as X-ray and CT examination of the lumbar spine were recorded in this study. The degree of disc degeneration and calcification rates of aortic wall and pineal gland were independently determined by two radiologists. Both ratio of calcified pineal gland and density of pineal calcification increased progressively with aging. Also, both the degree of aortic wall calcification and disc degeneration score increased with advancing age. On CT scan, a positive correlation between degree of aortic wall calcification and disc degeneration score was found (r=0.306, p<0.01). Importantly, there was a positive association between calcification of the pineal gland and degenerative disc disease in X-ray or CT study (r=0.378 and r=0.295, p<0.005 and p<0.01, respectively), as well as between abdominal aorta atherosclerosis and pineal calcification (r=0.634, p<0.001). Our findings suggest that there is a significant interaction between pineal gland calcification and lumbar intervertebral disc degeneration and also abdominal aorta atherosclerosis. However, further studies with a larger subject cohorts are needed.

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