Ahead of Print: The Mechanism of Ligamentum Flavum Hypertrophy

BACKGROUND: Biochemical alterations associated with mechanical stress have been explored as an initiating step in the pathological progression of ligamentum flavum hypertrophy (LFH); however, this mechanism remains poorly understood. Recently, the inflammation induced after mechanical stress and the subsequent response of ligamentum flavum (LF) cells have been implicated in LFH pathology.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the hypothesis that angiogenesis may be a critical link between hypertrophy and a series of stimulating events, including mechanical stress.

METHODS: LF from 20 lumbar spinal canal stenosis (LSCS) patients and 16 non-LSCS patients (control group) were collected during surgery. Patient demographic and radiographic data were obtained. The levels of angiogenic factors (vascular endothelial growth factor [VEGF], angiopoietin-1, vascular cell adhesion molecule, and basic fibroblast growth factor) in the LF were investigated by using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Angiogenesis was also quantified by immunohistochemical detection of CD34-positive capillaries. The correlations among clinical factors, including radiographic factors, angiogenic factors, and angiogenesis, were statistically analyzed.

RESULTS: The LSCS group was older and exhibited a longer symptom duration, wider segmental motion, and thicker LF than the control group. The LSCS group showed significantly higher tissue concentrations of VEGF (P < .001) that positively correlated with LF thickness (r = 0.557, P < .001) and segmental motion (r = 0.586, P < .001). The LSCS group showed significantly more CD34-positive capillaries than the control group (P = .004).

CONCLUSION: The LSCS group showed greater segmental motion, higher VEGF concentrations, and more CD34-positive capillaries than the control group. These data indicate that VEGF-mediated angiogenesis following mechanical stress may be a critical step within the series of pathological events in LFH.

From: The Mechanism of Ligamentum Flavum Hypertrophy: Introducing Angiogenesis as a Critical Link That Couples Mechanical Stress and Hypertrophy by Hur et al.

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