Primary osteopathy of vertebrae in a neurofibromatosis type 1 murine model

Wei Zhang, Steven D. Rhodes, Liming Zhao, Yongzheng He, Yingze Zhang, Yong Shen, Dalong Yang, Xiaohua Wu, Xiaohong Li, Xianlin Yang, Su Jung Park, Shi Chen, Charles Turner, Feng Chun Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a common autosomal dominant genetic disorder caused by mutation of the NF1 tumor suppressor gene. Spinal deformities are common skeletal manifestations in patients with NF1. To date, the mechanism of vertebral abnormalities remains unclear because of the lack of appropriate animal models for the skeletal manifestations of NF1. In the present study, we report a novel murine NF1 model, Nf1flox/-;Col2.3Cre+ mice. These mice display short vertebral segments. In addition, a significant reduction in cortical and trabecular bone mass of the vertebrae was observed in Nf1flox/-;Col2.3Cre+ mice as measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) and peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT). Peak stress and peak load were also significantly reduced in Nf1flox/-;Col2.3Cre+ mice as compared to controls. Furthermore, the lumbar vertebrae showed enlargement of the inter-vertebral canal, a characteristic feature of lumbar vertebrae in NF1 patients. Finally, histologic analysis demonstrated increased numbers of osteoclasts and decreased numbers of osteoblasts in the vertebrae of Nf1flox/-;Col2.3Cre+ mice in comparison to controls. In summary, Nf1flox/-;Col2.3Cre+ mice demonstrate multiple structural and functional abnormalities in the lumbar vertebrae which recapitulate the dystrophic vertebral changes in NF1 patients. This novel murine model provides a platform to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of spinal deficits in NF1 patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1378-1387
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Neurofibromatosis type 1
  • Osteoblast
  • Osteoclast
  • Osteopathy
  • Spinal deformity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Histology


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