Current insights into the aetiology of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis

Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2017 Oct;137(10):1327-1333. doi: 10.1007/s00402-017-2756-1. Epub 2017 Jul 14.


Scoliosis occurs in about 0.2-0.6% of the general population. In the majority of cases the cause of this entity remains mostly unidentified. The search for the causes covers almost all aspects of its possible origin. We collected and systematised the contemporary theories and concepts concerning the aetiology of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Genetic and hereditary factors are commonly accepted as possible causes; however, the identification of the single gene responsible for the development of this condition seems impossible, which suggests multifactorial mechanism of its formation. Dysfunctions of the nervous system are recognised risks related to the development of scoliosis, but they are classified as belonging to a separate aetiological category. Scoliosis develops at the quickest rate during the child's growth spurt, which prompted the research on the role of the growth hormone in scoliosis aetiology. Melatonin is another hormone that is studied as a possible factor involved in development of this entity. In cases of progressive scoliosis, increased activity of calmodulin-a protein that regulates the levels of calcium ions-has been observed. The scientists have characterised numerous qualitative and quantitative changes in the composition of the tissue of intervertebral discs, spinal ligaments and paraspinal muscles. Some of the theories, explaining the nature of this entity, presented in this review seem to have only a purely theoretical value; their proliferation only confirms the fact that the actual nature of this condition has not been unveiled yet, and suggests its multifactorial aetiology.

Keywords: Scoliosis; Scoliosis aetiology; Spine deformity; Spine multifactorial growth.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Scoliosis*