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Scientific Articles   |    
Polygenic Threshold Model with Sex Dimorphism in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: The Carter Effect
Lisa M. Kruse, MD1; Jillian G. Buchan, PhD1; Christina A. Gurnett, MD, PhD1; Matthew B. Dobbs, MD1
1 Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences (J.G.B.) and Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery (L.M.K. and M.B.D.) and Neurology (C.A.G.), Washington University School of Medicine, 1 Children’s Place, St. Louis, MO 63110
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Investigation performed at the Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences and the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery, Neurology, and Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, and Shriners Hospitals for Children-St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri

A commentary by William Cole, MBBS, MSc, PhD, FRACS, FRCSC, is linked to the online version of this article at jbjs.org.



Disclosure: One or more of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of an aspect of this work. None of the authors, or their institution(s), have had any financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with any entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. Also, no author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

Copyright © 2012 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2012 Aug 15;94(16):1485-1491. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.K.01450
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Abstract

Background: 

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis occurs between two and ten times more frequently in females than in males. The exact cause of this sex discrepancy is unknown, but it may represent a difference in susceptibility to the deformity. If this difference is attributable to genetic factors, then males with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis would need to inherit a greater number of susceptibility genes compared with females to develop the deformity. Males would also be more likely to transmit the disease to their children and to have siblings with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Such a phenomenon is known as the Carter effect, and the presence of such an effect would support a multifactorial threshold model of inheritance.

Methods: 

One hundred and forty multiplex families in which more than one individual was affected with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis were studied. These families contained 1616 individuals, including 474 individuals with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis and 1142 unaffected relatives. The rates of transmission from the 122 affected mothers and from the twenty-eight affected fathers were calculated, and the prevalence among siblings was determined in the nuclear families of affected individuals.

Results: 

The prevalence of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis in these multiplex families was lowest in sons of affected mothers (36%, thirty-eight of 105) and highest in daughters of affected fathers (85%, twenty-two of twenty-six). Affected fathers transmitted adolescent idiopathic scoliosis to 80% (thirty-seven) of forty-six children, whereas affected mothers transmitted it to 56% (133) of 239 children (p < 0.001). Siblings of affected males also had a significantly higher prevalence of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (55%, sixty-one of 110) compared with siblings of affected females (45%, 206 of 462) (p = 0.04).

Conclusions: 

This study demonstrates the presence of the Carter effect in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. This pattern can be explained by polygenic inheritance of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, with a greater genetic load required for males to be affected.

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    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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