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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in Journal of Translational Medicine

Volume 15, Issue 1, November 2017, Article number 233.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1186/s12967-017-1335-0. Copyright © Feldman et al.


BACKGROUND: Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is a debilitating condition whose distinguishing signs include incomplete formation of the acetabulum leading to dislocation of the femur, accelerated wear of the articular cartilage and joint laxity resulting in osteoarthritis. It is a complex disorder having environmental and genetic causes. Existing techniques fail to detect milder forms of DDH in newborns leading to hip osteoarthritis in young adults. A sensitive, specific and cost effective test would allow identification of newborns that could be non-invasively corrected by the use of a Pavlik harness. Previously, we identified a 2.5 MB candidate region on human chromosome 3 by using linkage analysis of a 4 generation, 72 member family. Whole exome sequencing of the DNA of 4 severely affected members revealed a single nucleotide polymorphism variant, rs3732378 co-inherited by all 11 affected family members. This variant causes a threonine to methionine amino acid change in the coding sequence of the CX3CR1 chemokine receptor and is predicted to be harmful to the function of the protein To gain further insight into the function of this mutation we examined the effect of CX3CR1 ablation on the architecture of the mouse acetabulum and on the murine gait.

METHODS: The hips of 5 and 8 weeks old wild type and CX3CR1 KO mice were analyzed using micro-CT to measure acetabular diameter and ten additional dimensional parameters. Eight week old mice were gait tested using an inclined treadmill with and without load and then underwent micro-CT analysis.

RESULTS: (1) KO mice showed larger a 5-17% larger diameter left acetabula than WT mice at both ages. (2) At 8 weeks the normalized area of space (i.e. size discrepancy) between the femur head and acetabulum is significantly larger [38% (p = 0.001)-21% (p = 0.037)] in the KO mice. (3) At 8 weeks gait analysis of these same mice shows several metrics that are consistent with impairment in the KO but not the WT mice. These deficits are often seen in mice and humans who develop hip OA.

CONCLUSION: The effect of CX3CR1 deletion on murine acetabular development provides suggestive evidence of a susceptibility inducing role of the CX3CR1 gene on DDH.

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