Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic inflammatory disease that leads to spinal ankylosis. The receptor activator of the nuclear factor-kappa (RANK), RANK ligand, and osteoprotegerin (OPG) (RANK/RANKL/OPG) pathway plays critical roles in bone metabolism and the immune system. The current study was aimed at investigating whether six single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the RANK, RANKL, and OPG genes essential for bone homeostasis are associated with AS. Genotype distributions, allele and haplotype frequencies, were compared between 1120 AS patients and 1435 healthy controls and among AS patients with stratification by syndesmophyte formation, onset age, and HLA-B27 positivity. We found that RANKL SNPs were associated with AS syndesmophyte formation. Notably, the RANKL SNP haplotype rs7984870C/rs9533155G/rs9525641C was negatively associated with AS susceptibility and appeared to protect against syndesmophyte formation in AS. Functionally, RANKL promoter SNPs (rs9525641 C/T and rs9533155 G/C) affected DNA-protein complex formation and promoter activity in promoter reporter analyses. The OPG SNP haplotype rs2073618G/rs3102735T was significantly associated with HLA-B27 negativity in AS patients. Furthermore, AS patients with syndesmophyte formation had significantly lower levels of soluble RANKL levels than those without syndesmophyte formation. Our data suggested a role for RANKL in AS susceptibility and severity.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by funding from the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (CMRPG3C0063 and CMRPG3F0051-3) and the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan (105-2314-B-068-MY3), and an award from the New Century Health Care Promotion Foundation to Dr. JY Chen. We greatly appreciate the Shin Chu Blood Donor Center for proving the collection of blood samples and Dr. Su-Wei Chang for the statistical analysis.
Copyright © 2019 Chin-Man Wang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.