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Those aching joints could be in your genes
Date:7/5/2011

ht, physical work, vertebral disc degeneration disease as well as genetic predisposition. Researchers relied on MRIs of the spine; radiographic assessment of the body lean, fat and bone mass; and blood samples for DNA extraction, genotyping and testing blood for potential biomarkers associated with joint disease.

In non-identical twins who share half of their genetic make-up, patients were almost three times more likely to suffer from back pain if their twin did so as well. In identical twins, who share all of their genes, the patient was six times more likely to have joint disease if their twin experienced the same joint disease.

Refining genetic testing

Although the degeneration of intervertebral discs is often associated with lower back pain, researchers discovered that the two conditions could exist independently, and are also caused by different genetic factors. "We have genetic factors that affect the rate and extent of the degeneration of our discs. In fact, the genetic factors are second only to age," explains Prof. Livshits. "On the other side, we have different genetic factors that independently cause lower back pain. These are mechanisms not involved in spine degeneration."

This discovery could revolutionize the study and treatment of back pain, says Prof. Livshits. More research on the genetic causes of back pain is still required, he notes, and a broader genome search of affected and non-affected individuals is necessary.

The next step for Prof. Livshits will be an international effort that spans university labs in a number of countries, creating a consortium of research groups. Together, they will be able to combine their efforts to analyze large sets of data in the quest to solve the mysteries associated with this common complaint.


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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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