Genetic Predisposition to Symptomatic Lumbar Disk Herniation in Pediatric and Young Adult Patients

Nicholas Theodore, Ali Karim Ahmed, Travis Fulton, Spyro Mousses, Christopher Yoo, Courtney Rory Goodwin, Jill Danielson, Daniel Sciubba, Morgan B. Giers, Mohammad Yashar S. Kalani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


STUDY DESIGN: Case-control whole-genome sequencing analysis of a highly select, young cohort with symptomatic lumbar disk herniation (LDH) compared with the standard variation in a large reference population. OBJECTIVE: To assess genetic influences predisposing pediatric and young adult patients to symptomatic LDH. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: LDH has traditionally been attributed to natural weakening or mechanical insult, but recent literature supports a potential genetic influence. METHODS: Young patients with symptomatic, clinically confirmed LDH who underwent surgical treatment were included. Patients were younger than the average age of presentation, limiting the influence of environmental risks. DNA collected from these patients was compared with a reference genome (1000 Genomes Project). A genome-wide association study using whole-genome sequencing was used to characterize genetic mutations potentially associated with LDH. RESULTS: Among the 61 candidate genes flagged, 20 had missense mutations in 2 or more LDH cases. Missense mutations in collagen-encoding genes were observed in 12 of 15 patients (80%). A potential association with clinical presentation was indicated by odds ratios of key single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) variants in genes that encode collagen. Relative to the reference population, the LDH cohort demonstrated two statistically significant SNP variants in the gene encoding for aggrecan, a protein that facilitates load-bearing properties in the cartilaginous end plate. Aggrecan genes SNPs rs3817428 and rs11638262 were significantly associated with decreased odds of symptomatic LDH: odds ratio 0.05 (0.02-0.11) and 0.04 (0-0.26), respectively (P < 1 × 10 for both). CONCLUSION: These results suggest that collagen-encoding variants may be a genetic risk factor for LDH. They also shed new light on the role of variants that impact aggrecan, which sustains the cartilaginous end plate. Genetic predisposition to LDH may therefore be related to a multimodal combination of mutations that affect the nucleus pulposus, annulus fibrosus, and the cartilaginous end plates.4.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E640-E649
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology

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