Francesco Gualdi, Isabelle Granville Smith, Roger Compte Boixader, Frances M. K. Williams

October 2023, Volume 32, Issue 10, pp 3379 - 3386 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-023-07870-7

First Online: 09 August 2023


Low back pain (LBP) is one of the largest causes of morbidity worldwide. The aetiology of LBP is complex, and many factors contribute to the onset. Bone marrow lesions within the vertebra adjacent to an intervertebral degenerate disc named Modic change (MC) have been suggested as a diagnostic subgroup of LBP. Autoimmune response has been proposed to be one of the causes that promote the development of MC. The aim of the current investigation is to assess prevalence and severity of MC and LBP in participants with an autoimmune disease diagnosis in a well-documented cohort of adult twin volunteers.


Multivariate generalized mixed linear models (GLMM) were implemented in order to calculate the association between having an autoimmune disorder and MC prevalence, width and severe and disabling LBP. The model was corrected for family structure as well as for covariates such as age, BMI and smoking.


No association was found between diagnosis of autoimmune disorder and MC. Interestingly, BMI was independently associated with MC width but not to MC prevalence. These results help to shed light on the relationship between MC and autoimmunity as well as the role of BMI in the development of the lesions.


This study is the first to examine autoimmune disorders and MC prevalence in a large, population-based female cohort. The study was well powered to detect a small effect. No association was found between having a diagnosis of one or more autoimmune conditions and MC prevalence, width or LBP.

Read Full Article