Friday, February 11, 2011 Researchers Identify Genetic Predisposition to Lumbar Disc Disease Researchers from the University of Utah School of Medicine report that there is a heritable predisposition to lumbar disc disease, according to a Medscape Medical News article based on a study published this month in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. For the study, authors analyzed data from the Utah Population Database, which allows medical information to be tracked on the state's founding pioneers and their descendents, and the University of Utah Health Sciences Center data warehouse, which has diagnosis and procedure data on all patients treated at the university hospital. Together the databases contain information on more than 2.4 million patients. Researchers included only patients and control participants with at least 3 generations of genealogical data. Of the people who qualified for the study, 1,254 had at least 1 diagnosis of lumbar disc disease or lumbar disc herniation, along with the requisite genealogical data. The authors tested for heritability by estimating the relative risk for lumbar disease in relatives and determining a genealogical index of familiality (GIF). They compared their findings in affected families with the expected results for the general population of Utah. First-degree relatives of people with lumbar disc disease had a relative risk of 4.15 of having the disease themselves. In third-degree relatives, the relative risk was 1.46. Relative risk was slightly elevated in second-degree relatives, at 1.15, but this was not significant finding, the article says. Genetically, the population of Utah is similar to the US population and to the northern European population from which the founders of Utah came, so the findings may be generalized to those groups, says Medscape.