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Int J Mol Epidemiol Genet. 2012;3(3):195-204. Epub 2012 Aug 31.

Gender difference in genetic association between IL1A variant and early lumbar disc degeneration: a three-year follow-up.

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Oulu Center for Cell - Matrix Research, Biocenter and Department of Medical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Oulu Oulu, Finland.



The purpose of the present study was to analyze the associations between specific genetic markers and early disc degeneration (DD) or early disc degeneration progression (DDP) defined by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).


We selected eleven of the most promising single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) and compared the distributions of these genetic markers between groups defined by MRI in a Danish adolescent population (N=166) over a three-year follow-up period.


We observed a ten-fold higher annual incidence of endplate changes than previously reported in adults. The gender difference in IL1A rs1800587 association with DD remained significant and another association with DDP emerged in follow-up assessment. Among girls, the rs1800587 T-allele was associated both with DD (OR 2.82 [95% CI 1.29-6.16]) and with DDP (OR 2.45 [95% CI 1.03-5.82]). Among boys, the IL6 rs1800795 genotype G/C was protective in both DD (OR 0.26 [95% CI 0.09-0.72]) and DDP (OR 0.32 [95% CI 0.12-0.88]) with the IL6 rs1800797 genotype G/A was associated with a decreased likelihood of DD (OR 0.27 [95% CI 0.10-0.77]). Gender-genotype interactions were significant for polymorphisms in both IL1A and IL6. Correction for multiple testing weakened the associations for IL6 polymorphisms.


We conclude that gender specific effects in lumbar disc degeneration and its progression are possible. However, further evaluations in larger populations are needed. Our results provide some support to the hypothesis that early disc degeneration is an especially important phase in the cascade of degenerative disc disease.


Disc degeneration; adolescents; disc degeneration progression; genetics; interleukins


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