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OBJECTIVE: To investigate risk factors for adult lumbar spine osteoarthritis (OA) including polymorphisms of the vitamin D receptor gene (VDR) and birthweight. METHODS: Plain radiographs of the lumbar spine were taken in 392 healthy subjects and graded for osteophytes and disc space narrowing (DSN); demographic data were collected. Details of birthweight and weight at 1 year were retrieved from historical records. VDR gene allelic variation was analyzed in 291 subjects. RESULTS: The mean age of the cohort was 65.8 years; mean weight was 68.9 kg in women and 80.1 kg and men. Osteophytes of grade >/= 2 were found in 63.5% of this cohort; DSN >/= 2 was present in 14.3% of subjects. Increasing osteophyte severity was significantly associated with age, adult weight, and manual social class; DSN was not. Presence and severity of osteophytes were associated with low birthweight and lower weight at 1 year in men, but not in women. No associations were found for DSN. The B allele of the VDR gene was associated with increasing severity of osteophyte. There was a significant interaction between birthweight and VDR gene in determining risk of osteophytosis in men (p for interaction = 0.04). The VDR-birthweight interaction pattern was similar but not statistically significant in women. CONCLUSION: Lumbar spine OA was a prevalent finding in this cohort. Both birthweight and polymorphisms in the VDR gene were associated with the presence of lumbar spine osteophytes and a significant interaction was observed between these 2 factors in men.


Journal article


J Rheumatol

Publication Date





678 - 683


Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Birth Weight, England, Female, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Genotype, Humans, Infant, Low Birth Weight, Infant, Newborn, Lumbar Vertebrae, Male, Polymorphism, Genetic, Radiography, Receptors, Calcitriol, Risk Factors, Spinal Osteophytosis