Back pain is the leading cause of years lived with disability worldwide, yet surprisingly, little is known regarding the biology underlying this condition. The impact of genetics is known for chronic back pain: its heritability is estimated to be at least 40%. Large genome-wide association studies have shown that common variation may account for up to 35% of chronic back pain heritability; rare variants may explain a portion of the heritability not explained by common variants. In this study, we performed the first gene-based association analysis of chronic back pain using UK Biobank imputed data including rare variants with moderate imputation quality. We discovered 2 genes, SOX5 and PANX3 , influencing chronic back pain. The SOX5 gene is a well-known back pain gene. The PANX3 gene has not previously been described as having a role in chronic back pain. We showed that the association of PANX3 with chronic back pain is driven by rare noncoding intronic polymorphisms. This result was replicated in an independent sample from UK Biobank and validated using a similar phenotype, dorsalgia, from FinnGen Biobank. We also found that the PANX3 gene is associated with intervertebral disk disorders. We can speculate that a possible mechanism of action of PANX3 on back pain is due to its effect on the intervertebral disks.
Copyright © 2022 International Association for the Study of Pain.