Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP): A Segmental Progeroid Syndrome

Robert J. Pignolo, Haitao Wang, Frederick S. Kaplan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Segmental progeroid syndromes are commonly represented by genetic conditions which recapitulate aspects of physiological aging by similar, disparate, or unknown mechanisms. Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) is a rare genetic disease caused by mutations in the gene for ACVR1/ALK2 encoding Activin A receptor type I/Activin-like kinase 2, a bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) type I receptor, and results in the formation of extra-skeletal ossification and a constellation of others features, many of which resemble accelerated aging. The median estimated lifespan of individuals with FOP is approximately 56 years of age. Characteristics of precocious aging in FOP include both those that are related to dysregulated BMP signaling as well as those secondary to early immobilization. Progeroid features that may primarily be associated with mutations in ACVR1 include osteoarthritis, hearing loss, alopecia, subcutaneous lipodystrophy, myelination defects, heightened inflammation, menstrual abnormalities, and perhaps nephrolithiasis. Progeroid features that may secondarily be related to immobilization from progressive heterotopic ossification include decreased vital capacity, osteoporosis, fractures, sarcopenia, and predisposition to respiratory infections. Some manifestations of precocious aging may be attributed to both primary and secondary effects of FOP. At the level of lesion formation in FOP, soft tissue injury resulting in hypoxia, cell damage, and inflammation may lead to the accumulation of senescent cells as in aged tissue. Production of Activin A, platelet-derived growth factor, metalloproteinases, interleukin 6, and other inflammatory cytokines as part of the senescence-associated secretory phenotype could conceivably mediate the initial signaling cascade that results in the intense fibroproliferative response as well as the tissue-resident stem cell reprogramming leading up to ectopic endochondral bone formation. Consideration of FOP as a segmental progeroid syndrome offers a unique perspective into potential mechanisms of normal aging and may also provide insight for identification of new targets for therapeutic interventions in FOP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number908
JournalFrontiers in Endocrinology
StatePublished - Jan 10 2020


  • ACVR1
  • activin A
  • cell senescence
  • fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva
  • progeroid syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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