1. Novosibirsk Research Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedics n.a. Ya.L. Tsivyan, Novosibirsk, Russia
2. Meshalkin National Medical Research Center, Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, Novosibirsk, Russia
3. Institute of Chemical Biology and Fundamental Medicine, Russian Academy of Science, Novosibirsk, Russia
4. Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Russian Academy of Science, Novosibirsk, Russia
5. University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA, USA
6. Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, Madison WI, USA
Background: In a previous report, we demonstrated the presence of cells with a neural/glial phenotype on the concave side of the vertebral body growth plate in Idiopathic Scoliosis (IS) and proposed this phenotype alteration as the main etiological factor of IS. In the present study, we utilized the same specimens of vertebral body growth plates removed during surgery for Grade III-IV IS to analyse gene expression. We suggested that phenotype changes observed on the concave side of the vertebral body growth plate can be associated with altered expression of particular genes, which in turn compromise mechanical properties of the concave side.
Methods: We used a Real-Time SYBR Green PCR assay to investigate gene expression in vertebral body growth plates removed during surgery for Grade III-IV IS; cartilage tissues from human fetal spine were used as a surrogate control. Special attention was given to genes responsible for growth regulation, chondrocyte differentiation, matrix synthesis, sulfation and transmembrane transport of sulfates. We performed morphological, histochemical, biochemical, and ultrastructural analysis of vertebral body growth plates.
Results: Expression of genes that control chondroitin sulfate sulfation and corresponding protein synthesis was significantly lower in scoliotic specimens compared to controls. Biochemical analysis showed 1) a decrease in diffused proteoglycans in the total pool of proteoglycans; 2) a reduced level of their sulfation; 3) a reduction in the amount of chondroitin sulfate coinciding with raising the amount of keratan sulfate; and 4) reduced levels of sulfation on the concave side of the scoliotic deformity.
Conclusion: The results suggested that altered expression of genes that control chondroitin sulfate sulfation and corresponding changes in protein synthesis on the concave side of vertebral body growth plates could be causal agents of the scoliotic deformity.
Keywords: idiopathic scoliosis, vertebral body growth plate, gene expression