Objective: To perform a large-scale association analysis of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in patients with radiographically defined osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee.
Methods: We examined >25,000 SNPs located within approximately 14,000 genes for associations with radiographically defined knee OA, using polymerase chain reaction and MassExtend amplification techniques. Allele frequencies were estimated initially in DNA pools from 335 female patients with knee OA and 335 asymptomatic and radiographically negative female control subjects. All were of northern European ancestry. Significant allele frequency differences were validated by genotyping of individual DNA samples. Confirmed significant findings were verified in 2 additional case-control samples from the UK (443 cases and 303 controls) and Newfoundland (346 cases and 264 controls). Chondrosarcoma cell lines were used to test for potential differences in gene expression.
Results: The marker most strongly associated with the risk of knee OA was rs912428, a C/T polymorphism in intron 1 of LRCH1, a gene on chromosome 13q14 that encodes a novel protein of as-yet-unknown function. The frequency of the T allele compared with controls was consistently increased by 40% across all 3 case-control groups. Additional subanalyses in case-control samples with hip OA and hand OA suggested similar trends, but did not reach statistical significance. Association fine-mapping using 10 additional SNPs in LRCH1 confirmed intron 1 as the region of highest association but failed to reveal variations with significance stronger than the marker SNP, as did the haplotype analysis. LRCH1 was not up-regulated or overexpressed in chondrosarcoma cell lines exposed to inflammatory stimuli, suggesting a possible structural role.
Conclusion: A genetic variant in LRCH1 was consistently associated with knee OA in 3 samples from 2 populations. Our results also suggest that the same association with OA may exist at other sites. Additional genetic and experimental work is needed to elucidate the precise mechanism by which the LRCH1 gene influences OA risk.