Heritability of Thoracic Spine Curvature and Genetic Correlations With Other Spine Traits: The Framingham Study

Michelle S. Yau, Serkalem Demissie, Yanhua Zhou, Dennis E. Anderson, Amanda L. Lorbergs, Douglas P. Kiel, Brett T. Allaire, Laiji Yang, L. Adrienne Cupples, Thomas G. Travison, Mary L. Bouxsein, David Karasik, Elizabeth J. Samelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Hyperkyphosis is a common spinal disorder in older adults, characterized by excessive forward curvature of the thoracic spine and adverse health outcomes. The etiology of hyperkyphosis has not been firmly established, but may be related to changes that occur with aging in the vertebrae, discs, joints, and muscles, which function as a unit to support the spine. Determining the contribution of genetics to thoracic spine curvature and the degree of genetic sharing among co-occurring measures of spine health may provide insight into the etiology of hyperkyphosis. The purpose of our study was to estimate heritability of thoracic spine curvature using T4–T12 kyphosis (Cobb) angle and genetic correlations between thoracic spine curvature and vertebral fracture, intervertebral disc height narrowing, facet joint osteoarthritis (OA), lumbar spine volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD), and paraspinal muscle area and density, which were all assessed from computed tomography (CT) images. Participants included 2063 women and men in the second and third generation offspring of the original cohort of the Framingham Study. Heritability of kyphosis angle, adjusted for age, sex, and weight, was 54% (95% confidence interval [CI], 43% to 64%). We found moderate genetic correlations between kyphosis angle and paraspinal muscle area (Formula presented.), vertebral fracture (Formula presented.), vBMD (Formula presented.), and paraspinal muscle density (Formula presented.). Genetic correlations between kyphosis angle and disc height narrowing (Formula presented.) and facet joint OA (Formula presented.) were low. Thoracic spine curvature may be heritable and share genetic factors with other age-related spine traits including trunk muscle size, vertebral fracture, and bone mineral density.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2077-2084
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016

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© 2016 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research


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