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Familial calcium crystal diseases: what have we learned?

The spectrum of heterotopic calcification or ossification is expanding because of the reports of several kindreds with calcium pyrophosphate deposition disease, apatite deposition disease, and others with less common syndromes associated with extracellular matrix calcification, such as fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva and related syndromes. Genomic DNA studies in both humans and mice provide a shortcut to understanding the genetic basis of promotion and prevention of ECM calcification. Mutation in the COL2A1 gene has been identified in one family with spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia and calcium pyrophosphate and apatite crystalline deposits. In another kindred with precocious osteoarthritis without spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, the phenotype was linked to markers of chromosome 8. In four other kindreds, the phenotypes were linked to an area of chromosome 5p. Two genes located in this region, which are expressed in articular cartilage, are being investigated as possible calcium pyrophosphate deposition disease genes. The results of linkage studies in three kindreds with articular/periarticular ADD with the COL2A1 gene were noninformative. Two different mouse mutations, the ank/ank and the ttw/ttw mice, are associated with intra-articular and ligament apatite deposits caused by a decrease in extracellular pyrophosphate concentrations, mimicking human arthritis caused by apatite deposition disease. Mutations in the matrix GLA protein, both in mice and in humans, are also associated with vascular and articular calcification. These mouse mutations provide cutting-edge information in the investigation of the mechanisms of apatite deposition in humans.[1]


  1. Familial calcium crystal diseases: what have we learned? Maldonado, I., Reginato, A.M., Reginato, A.J. Current opinion in rheumatology. (2001) [Pubmed]
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