Int J Med Sci 2018; 15(5):436-446. doi:10.7150/ijms.22894

Research Paper

A New Look at Etiological Factors of Idiopathic Scoliosis: Neural Crest Cells

Alla M. Zaydman1✉, Elena L. Strokova1, Elena V. Kiseleva2, Lubov A. Suldina2, Anton A. Strunov2, Alexander I. Shevchenko2, Pavel P. Laktionov3, Vladimir M. Subbotin4✉

1. Novosibirsk Research Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedics n.a. Ya.L. Tsivyan, Novosibirsk, Russia
2. Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Russian Academy of Science, Novosibirsk, Russia
3. Institute of Chemical Biology and Fundamental Medicine, Russian Academy of Science, and Meshalkin National Medical Research Center, Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation, Novosibirsk, Russia
4. Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, Madison WI, and University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA, USA.

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Zaydman AM, Strokova EL, Kiseleva EV, Suldina LA, Strunov AA, Shevchenko AI, Laktionov PP, Subbotin VM. A New Look at Etiological Factors of Idiopathic Scoliosis: Neural Crest Cells. Int J Med Sci 2018; 15(5):436-446. doi:10.7150/ijms.22894. Available from

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Idiopathic scoliosis is one of the most common disabling pathologies of children and adolescents. Etiology and pathogenesis of idiopathic scoliosis remain unknown. To study the etiology of this disease we identified the cells' phenotypes in the vertebral body growth plates in patients with idiopathic scoliosis.

Materials and methods: The cells were isolated from vertebral body growth plates of the convex and concave sides of the deformity harvested intraoperatively in 50 patients with scoliosis. Cells were cultured and identified by methods of common morphology, neuromorphology, electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry and PCR analysis.

Results: Cultured cells of convex side of deformation were identified as chondroblasts. Cells isolated from the growth plates of the concave side of the deformation showed numerous features of neuro- and glioblasts. These cells formed synapses, contain neurofilaments, and expressed neural and glial proteins.

Conclusion: For the first time we demonstrated the presence of cells with neural/glial phenotype in the concave side of the vertebral body growth plate in scoliotic deformity. We hypothesized that neural and glial cells observed in the growth plates of the vertebral bodies represent derivatives of neural crest cells deposited in somites due to alterations in their migratory pathway during embryogenesis. We also propose that ectopic localization of cells derived from neural crest in the growth plate of the vertebral bodies is the main etiological factor of the scoliotic disease.

Keywords: scoliosis, growth plate, neural crest, the expression of proteins, neurofilaments, synapses, chondrocyte