Achondroplasia: pathogenesis and implications for future treatment

Curr Opin Pediatr. 2010 Aug;22(4):516-23. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0b013e32833b7a69.


Purpose of review: Although the genetic defect underlying achondroplasia has been known for over a decade, no effective therapies to stimulate bone growth have emerged. Here we review the recent literature and summarize the molecular mechanisms underlying disease pathology and examine their potential as therapeutic targets. Currently used preclinical models are discussed in the context of recent advances with a special focus on C-type natriuretic peptide.

Recent findings: Research on the mutation in Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 3 (FGFR3) that causes achondroplasia suggests that disease results from increased signal transduction from the mutant receptor. Thus, current therapeutic strategies have focused on reducing signals emanating from FGFR3. First-generation therapies directly targeting FGFR3, such as kinase inhibitors and neutralizing antibodies, designed for targeting FGFR3 in cancer, are still in the preclinical phase and have yet to translate into the management of achondroplasia. Counteracting signal transduction pathways downstream of FGFR3 holds promise with the discovery that administration of C-type natriuretic peptide to achondroplastic mice ameliorates their clinical phenotype. However, more research into long-term effectiveness and safety of this strategy is needed. Direct targeting of therapeutic agents to growth plate cartilage may enhance efficacy and minimize side effects of these and future therapies.

Summary: Current research into the pathogenesis of achondroplasia has expanded our understanding of the mechanisms of FGFR3-induced disease and has increased the number of approaches that we may use to potentially correct it. Further research is needed to validate these approaches in preclinical models of achondroplasia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Achondroplasia* / diagnosis
  • Achondroplasia* / drug therapy
  • Achondroplasia* / genetics
  • Animals
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Natriuretic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Natriuretic Peptide, C-Type / therapeutic use*
  • Prognosis
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 3 / genetics


  • Natriuretic Agents
  • Natriuretic Peptide, C-Type
  • FGFR3 protein, human
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 3