An association between an aggrecan polymorphic allele and bilateral hand osteoarthritis in elderly white men: data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA)

Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 1998 Jul;6(4):245-51. doi: 10.1053/joca.1998.0117.


Objective: The aggrecan proteoglycan is a major component of articular cartilage and supports the biomechanical function of this tissue. A variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) polymorphism has been discovered recently in a region of the human aggrecan gene that codes for the chondroitin sulfate attachment sites. We examined whether alleles of this polymorphism displayed a non-random association with bilateral hand or knee osteoarthritis (OA) in men from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA).

Design: DNA was obtained from 93 Caucasian men, aged 60 and above, who had bilateral hand and standing knee radiographs read for changes of OA. The DNA was analyzed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and/or Southern blotting for the presence of the VNTR alleles.

Results: Bilateral hand OA and knee OA were present in 46 and 30% of the men respectively. The following distribution of alleles was observed: allele 33 (0.5%), 29 (2.2%), 28 (31.7%), 27 (43.0%), 26 (16.7%), 25 (3.2%), 22 (2.2%) and 19 (0.5%). This distribution was similar to that detected in a random population of individuals from a separate study. In multiple logistic regression analysis, adjusting for age and body mass index, the presence of allele 27 was associated with bilateral hand OA with an odds ratio (OR) = 3.23 (95% confidence intervals (CI): 1.24-8.41). No other alleles showed an association with bilateral hand OA and the association between allele 27 and bilateral knee OA was not statistically significant (OR = 1.14; 95% CI: 0.45-2.88).

Conclusions: These data demonstrate the first association between a human aggrecan gene polymorphic allele and hand OA. This finding supports the concept that genetic factors may play a role in the development and/or progression of some forms of age-onset OA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aggrecans
  • Alleles
  • Body Mass Index
  • Chondroitin Sulfate Proteoglycans / genetics*
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins*
  • Hand
  • Humans
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Minisatellite Repeats / genetics
  • Osteoarthritis / genetics*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / genetics
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Proteoglycans / genetics*


  • Aggrecans
  • Chondroitin Sulfate Proteoglycans
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Proteoglycans