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Eur Spine J. 2011 Apr;20(4):572-7. doi: 10.1007/s00586-010-1598-0. Epub 2010 Oct 15.

Single-nucleotide polymorphism in the hyaluronan and proteoglycan link protein 1 (HAPLN1) gene is associated with spinal osteophyte formation and disc degeneration in Japanese women.

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Department of Geriatric Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1, Hongo, Bumkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan.


Spinal osteoarthritis including disc degeneration is a very common condition in the axial skeletons of aged people. Recently, spinal osteoarthritis has been shown to be influenced by specific genetic risk factors. Vertebral osteophytes, endplate sclerosis, and intervertebral disc narrowing are recognized as radiographic features of spinal disc degeneration. HAPLN1 is a key component of the cartilage extracellular matrix; thus, variations in this gene may affect the pathogenesis of cartilage-related diseases such as spinal degeneration. Here, we examine the association between an HAPLN1 gene polymorphism and the radiographic features of spinal degeneration. We evaluated the degree of endplate sclerosis, osteophyte formation, and disc space narrowing in 622 Japanese postmenopausal women. Four SNPs in the HAPLN1 gene-in the 5' flanking region, intron 1, intron 2, and intron 4-were analyzed using the TaqMan polymerase chain reaction method. We found that compared to subjects with the CC or CT genotype, those with the TT genotype for an SNP at intron 2 (rs179851) were significantly overrepresented among the subjects with higher scores for osteophyte formation (P = 0.0001; odds ratio 2.12; 95% confidence interval 1.45-3.11, as determined by logistic regression analysis) and disc space narrowing (P = 0.0057; odds ratio 1.83; 95% confidence interval 1.19-2.83). Consistent with the involvement of the HAPLN1 gene in cartilage metabolism, a variation in a specific HAPLN1 gene locus may be associated with spinal degeneration.

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