Multiple hereditary exostoses (MHE): elucidating the pathogenesis of a rare skeletal disorder through interdisciplinary research.
Abstract An interdisciplinary and international group of clinicians and scientists gathered in Philadelphia, PA, to attend the fourth International Research Conference on Multiple Hereditary Exostoses (MHE), a rare and severe skeletal disorder. MHE is largely caused by autosomal dominant mutations in EXT1 or EXT2, genes encoding Golgi-associated glycosyltransferases responsible for heparan sulfate (HS) synthesis. HS chains are key constituents of cell surface- and extracellular matrix-associated proteoglycans, which are known regulators of skeletal development. MHE affected individuals are HS-deficient, can display skeletal growth retardation and deformities, and consistently develop benign, cartilage-capped bony outgrowths (termed exostoses or osteochondromas) near the growth plates of many skeletal elements. Nearly 2% of patients will have their exostoses progress to malignancy, becoming peripheral chondrosarcomas. Current treatments are limited to the surgical removal of symptomatic exostoses. No definitive treatments have been established to inhibit further formation and growth of exostoses, prevent transition to malignancy, or address other medical problems experienced by MHE patients, including chronic pain. Thus, the goals of the Conference were to assess our current understanding of MHE pathogenesis, identify key gaps in information, envision future therapeutic strategies and discuss ways to test and implement them. This report provides an assessment of the exciting and promising findings in MHE and related fields presented at the Conference and a discussion of the future MHE research directions. The Conference underlined the critical usefulness of gathering experts in several research fields to forge new alliances and identify cross-fertilization areas to benefit both basic and translational biomedical research on the skeleton.
Jones, KB; Pacifici, M; Hilton, MJ
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