Purpose: Aim of this study was to investigate RANKL and osteoprotegerin plasma concentrations in patients affected by disc herniation, the most common epiphenomenon of disc degenerative diseases, and in a matched cohort of healthy subjects and whether the expression of these markers was associated to a polymorphism of the vitamin D receptor gene. Methods: For this case–control study, 110 consecutive cases affected by lumbar disc herniation (confirmed by MRI) and 110 healthy age- and sex-matched controls were enrolled. Subjects affected by any other pathology were excluded. RANKL and osteoprotegerin were measured in plasma by immunoassays. The difference in these markers between cases and controls was assessed by t test. The correlation between osteoimmunological markers concentrations, anthropometrical variables, and the expression of the pathology was statistically assessed (Pearson’s test) along with the association (Fisher’s exact test) with the vitamin D receptor gene genotype, determined elsewhere. Results: Despite comparable osteoprotegerin concentrations, cases, altogether or grouped for gender, express lower RANKL and, consequently, RANKL-to-osteoprotegerin ratio. While in cases RANKL and osteoprotegerin concentrations were independent from age and BMI, in controls they increased with age. Disc herniation was strongly associated with RANKL and the presence of the F allele of the VDR gene. Conclusions: Whether vertebral bone changes precede or follow cartilage deterioration in intervertebral disc degeneration is not known. Our results suggest a reduced bone turnover rate, associated to a specific genetic background, in patients affected by lumbar disc herniation which could be one of the favoring factors for disc degeneration.
- Disc herniation
- VDR polymorphisms
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine