Coming to a hospital or clinic near you... maybe?!
A research study led by Dr. Moreau and colleagues at Ste Justine Hospital in Montreal, Canada, has revealed that elevated levels of plasma Osteopontin (OPN) precedes scoliosis. High plasma OPN levels that are found in patients with scoliosis are unique in the pediatric population.
"To date, OPN is the only known osteoblast-associated gene whose expression is reduced in mature, bone matrix–producing osteoblasts...
Elevated levels of Osteopontin (OPN) are present in many diseases and cancers. OPN is a molecule frequently found in chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, and it is confined to a small area in and around inflammatory cells. OPN is also associated with bone growth and remodelling and it is enhanced in response to bone stress or injury i.e, possibly a bio-mechanical dysfunction???" Its expression is increased in response to early proinflammatory cytokines and to mechanical strain in bone. "Elevated levels of OPN in children with scoliosis clearly has something to do with the spine curving or the beginnings thereof because....plasma OPN in children with scoliosis has been shown to be lowered with bracing or in post surgery patients.
"The detection of OPN levels can thus be used to identify within asymptomatic children those who are at risk of developing a scoliosis (AIS or other spinal disorders and disorders causing scoliosis) and identify among scoliotic subjects, those or are at risk of experiencing a progression of scoliosis.”
As a result, if a brace is not working or if watching and waiting isn’t working either, plasma OPN will remain elevated and continue to increase. The patient then has other choices available such as getting a better brace – casting, physiotherapy, torso rotation or even experimental non fusion surgery options. OPN blood testing could also eliminate the need for x-rays at follow-up clinic visits. However, I’m not sure how many children are keen on getting their blood drawn every six months???It could be a source of anxiety and stress for many children.I know from personal experience, that my kids would rather go to the dentist than get a needle to draw blood!
Comparing the level of circulating OPN in asymptomatic children at risk and healthy controls
" A group of 70 asymptomatic children at risk of developing a scoliosis and 35 healthy control subjects were tested as described in Example 1 above. The mean plasma OPN levels in the group at risk of developing a scoliosis (846.30 ± 402 nanograms per milliliter) differed significantly (p=0.001) from the healthy controls (570 ± 156 nanograms per milliliter) and both groups were age- and gender-matched. No significant gender difference was observed (see Table 4 above)."
" Using a cut-off value of 800 nanograms per milliliter, it was observed that 47.9 percent of asymptomatic children in that group were above this plasma OPN value while only 8.6 percent of healthy controls were above this value. These results are in agreement with previous reports showing that the offspring of at least one affected parent develops more often a scoliosis than ones born from unaffected parents (34, 35)."
Doctors found an inverse relation between selenium levels and OPN but they didn't actually show that increasing selenium intake would lower OPN levels or that OPN was the culprit in scoliosis progression. I would hate for a parent to read this and go out and self treat something which has not been proven in the medical literature.Be aware that there could be serious side effects to giving selenium to children. North Americans get the recommended daily allowance from diet alone and its not necessary to supplement. If you google risks to selenium, there are plenty of reasons to be concerned! Here is one website as an example. Selenium overdose can lead to heart failure and death.
"Plasma selenium concentration was thus measured in pediatric populations (AIS vs. healthy controls) to determine whether or not low selenium levels correlate with higher OPN concentrations in AIS. Plasma selenium concentrations were determined by a fluorometric method using 2,3-diaminonaphthalene (DAN) (46, 47). Results presented in Figures 18 and 19 show a correlation between high OPN levels and low selenium levels in scoliotic and asymptomatic at risk children."
Interesting random facts about the mice in the experiment:
“The C57BI6/6J mouse strain was used because it is naturally deficient in melatonin(26), exhibits high circulating OPN levels(27) and develops scoliosis when they are maintained in a bipedal state.”
"Development of scoliosis in the bipedal mouse requires the interaction of OPN and CD44 receptors. None of the genetically modified bipedal mice developed scoliosis."
Additional Questions to Ponder:
~ Scoliosis appeared in bipedal mice but would it have occurred in quadrupeds?
~ What was the fate of the genetically modified mice? Did they develop normally? Did they grow at all?
Correcting Scoliosis during the AIS
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