Biological effect of dysregulated LBX1 on adolescent idiopathic scoliosis through modulating muscle carbohydrate metabolism

Yujia Wang, Mengheng Li, Chi On Chan, Guangpu Yang, Jacky Chun Kit Lam, Brian Chun Sum Law, Tsz ping Lam, Alec Lik Hang Hung, Jack Chun Yiu Cheng, Daniel Kam Wah Mok, Wayne Yuk Wai Lee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND CONTEXT: Abnormal energy metabolism such as lower body weight and body mass index (BMI) and less fat mass is widely reported in patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) and has been implicated in deformity development. However, the underlying mechanism is largely unclear. LBX1 is one of the promising AIS predisposing genes validated by multicenter studies. PURPOSE: This study aimed to identify differentially expressed proteins (DEPs) relating to energy metabolism in AIS by using proteomic and metabolic analysis and to explore if the expression of these DEPs is associated with clinical parameters and modulated by LBX1. STUDY DESIGN: This is a cross-sectional study using clinical data and biological samples followed by basic study using a cellular model. PATIENT SAMPLE: Plasma samples were collected from Chinese girls with nonprogressive and progressive AIS (N=7 and 8, respectively) and age-matched healthy girls (N=50). Paraspinal muscle tissues were collected intraoperatively from concave and convex side of the apex of the major spinal curve in AIS (N=24) and either side from nonscoliosis patients (N=14). OUTCOME MEASURES: Radiological Cobb angle and basic anthropometric data of recruited subjects were measured. The DEPs and metabolites were compared in plasma using proteomics and metabolomics technique. The relative expression of selected genes was measured in muscles. METHODS: Plasma samples from AIS were collected at first clinical visit and were further divided into nonprogressive or progressive groups according to Cobb angle changes in 6-year follow-up. Age-matched healthy girls were recruited as control. High-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry based proteomic analysis was carried out in three groups to identify DEPs and their annotated metabolic pathways. An independent cohort was used for validation by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry based metabolomic analysis. Paraspinal muscles were subjected to quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) followed by correlation analysis. Human skeletal muscle myoblast (HSMM) was used as the cellular model. RESULTS: The likelihood of aberrant galactose metabolism and glycolysis was found to be associated with AIS curve progression as evidenced by the thirteen DEPs and seven related metabolites according to proteomic and metabolomic analysis. Some of the DEPs showed significantly altered expression in AIS concave and convex sides paraspinal muscles compared with those in nonscoliosis control. Four DEPs were found significantly and negatively correlated with LBX1 in AIS convex side paraspinal muscles. Overexpressing LBX1 in HSMM cells led to increased expression of three DEPs and decreased expression of three DEPs, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first integrated proteomic and metabolomic analysis on AIS. Our findings show dysregulated galactose metabolism and glycolysis pathways in progressive group of AIS, suggesting the presence of abnormal energy metabolism at early stage of this disease, and their association with higher risk of progressing into more severe curvature. Evidence from ex vivo study with human muscle biopsies and in vitro study with human myoblast cells propose the possible effect of LBX1 on these two pathways in skeletal muscles. The present study provides new evidence of LBX1 function in AIS via modulating effect on the expression of energy metabolism related genes. This study might provide new insights into etiopathogenesis and development of novel treatment strategy targeting on abnormal body weight and BMI in patients with AIS. Additionally, the plasma proteomic and metabolomic studies suggested new candidates as biomarkers for establishing predictive model for AIS onset/progression.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSpine Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Apr 2022


  • AIS
  • Energy metabolic pathways
  • Human myoblast
  • LBX1
  • Metabolomics
  • Proteomics
  • Skeletal muscles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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