Mutations in isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1) and IDH2 are found in a somatic mosaic fashion in patients with multiple enchondromas. Enchondromas are benign cartilaginous tumors arising in the medulla of bone. The mutant IDH1/2 causes elevated levels of D-2-hydroxyglutarate (D-2-HG). Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are the precursor of the osteoblastic, chondrogenic and adipocytic lineage and we hypothesized that increased levels of D-2-HG cause multiple enchondromas by affecting differentiation of MSCs. Bone marrow derived MSCs from different donors were differentiated towards osteoblastic, chondrogenic and adipocytic lineage in the presence or absence of 5 mM D-2-HG. Three of four MSCs showed near complete inhibition of calcification after 3 weeks under osteogenic differentiation conditions in the presence of D-2-HG, indicating a block in osteogenic differentiation. Two of four MSCs showed an increase in differentiation towards the chondrogenic lineage. To evaluate the effect of D-2-HG in vivo we monitored bone development in zebrafish, which revealed an impaired development of vertebrate rings in the presence of D-2-HG compared to control conditions (p-value < 0.0001). Our data indicate that increased levels of D-2-HG promote chondrogenic over osteogenic differentiation. Thus, mutations in IDH1/2 lead to a local block in osteogenic differentiation during skeletogenesis causing the development of benign cartilaginous tumors.
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