Elastic fibers and proteoglycans are major components of the extracellular matrix and their changes have been reported in some pathological conditions. Further, recent studies have indicated that some glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans inhibit elastic fiber assembly. The purpose of this study was to investigate changes of the elastic fibers and proteoglycans in the ligamentum flavum and analyze their relationships to thickening of the ligamentum flavum from lumbar spinal canal stenosis (LSCS). Ligamentum flavum samples were collected from 20 patients with LSCS (thickened flavum group) and 10 patients with lumbar disc herniation (non-thickened flavum group) as a control. Elastica–Masson staining and alcian blue staining were used to compare the relationship between the changes in the elastic fibers and proteoglycans. Gene and protein expressions of the elastic fibers and proteoglycans were analyzed by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry. Histological changes indicated that proteoglycans mainly increased on the dorsal side of the ligamentum flavum in accordance with the decreased elastic fibers in the thickened flavum group. The gene and protein expressions of fibrillin-2 and DANCE were significantly lower and decorin, lumican, osteoglycin, and versican were significantly higher in the thickened flavum group. Our study shows that elastic fibers decrease and proteoglycans increase in the thickened ligamentum flavum. Decreased gene expression of elastogenesis and disrupted elastic fiber assembly caused by increased proteoglycans may lead to a loss of elasticity in the thickened ligamentum flavum. Decreased elasticity may cause buckling of the tissue, which leads to thickening of the ligamentum flavum.
- ligamentum flavum
- lumbar spinal canal stenosis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine