Molecular and Genetic Mechanisms of Spinal Stenosis Formation: Systematic Review

Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Nov 3;23(21):13479. doi: 10.3390/ijms232113479.


Spinal stenosis (SS) is a multifactorial polyetiological condition characterized by the narrowing of the spinal canal. This condition is a common source of pain among people over 50 years old. We perform a systematic review of molecular and genetic mechanisms that cause SS. The five main mechanisms of SS were found to be ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL), hypertrophy and ossification of the ligamentum flavum (HLF/OLF), facet joint (FJ) osteoarthritis, herniation of the intervertebral disc (IVD), and achondroplasia. FJ osteoarthritis, OPLL, and HLF/OLFLF/OLF have all been associated with an over-abundance of transforming growth factor beta and genes related to this phenomenon. OPLL has also been associated with increased bone morphogenetic protein 2. FJ osteoarthritis is additionally associated with Wnt/β-catenin signaling and genes. IVD herniation is associated with collagen type I alpha 1 and 2 gene mutations and subsequent protein dysregulation. Finally, achondroplasia is associated with fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 gene mutations and fibroblast growth factor signaling. Although most publications lack data on a direct relationship between the mutation and SS formation, it is clear that genetics has a direct impact on the formation of any pathology, including SS. Further studies are necessary to understand the genetic and molecular changes associated with SS.

Keywords: congenital disease; degenerative disease; genetics; molecular mechanisms; spinal stenosis; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Achondroplasia* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Ligamentum Flavum*
  • Middle Aged
  • Ossification of Posterior Longitudinal Ligament* / complications
  • Ossification of Posterior Longitudinal Ligament* / pathology
  • Osteoarthritis* / pathology
  • Spinal Stenosis* / complications
  • Spinal Stenosis* / genetics
  • Spinal Stenosis* / pathology

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.