Stem Cell Treatment for Degenerative Disc Disease

Stem Cell Treatment for Degenerative Disc Disease

Degeneration of the intervertebral disc, often called "degenerative disc disease" (DDD) of the spine, is a condition that can be painful and can greatly affect the quality of one's life.


While disc degeneration is a normal part of aging and for most people is not a problem, for certain individuals a degenerated disc can cause severe constant chronic pain. Often, degenerative disc disease can be successfully treated without surgery. One or a combination of treatments such as physical therapy, chiropractic manipulative therapy (CMT) and other chiropractic treatments, osteopathic manipulation, anti-inflammatory medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, traction, or spinal injections often provide adequate relief of these troubling symptoms.

Degenerative discs typically show degenerative fibrocartilage and clusters of chondrocytes, suggestive of repair. Inflammation may or may not be present. Histologic examination of disc fragments resected for presumed DDD is routine to exclude malignancy.

Fibrocartilage replaces the gelatinous mucoid material of the nucleus pulposus as the disc changes with age. There may be splits in the annulus fibrosis, permitting herniation of elements of nucleus pulposus. There may also be shrinkage of the nucleus pulposus that produces prolapse of the annulus with secondary osteophyte formation at the margins of the adjacent vertebral body.

The pathologic findings in DDD include protrusion, spondylolysis, and/or subluxation of vertebrae (sponylolisthesis) and spinal stenosis.


Stem Cell Treatment and Degenerative Disc Disease NIH Streaming Database

Related Articles Nucleus pulposus mesenchymal stem cells in acidic conditions mimicking degenerative intervertebral discs give better performance than adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells. Cells Tissues Organs. 2014;199(5-6):342-52 Authors: Han B, Wang HC, Li H, Tao YQ, Liang CZ, Li FC, Chen G, Chen QX Abstract The microenvironment of the intervertebral disc (IVD) is characterized by matrix acidity, hypoxia, hyperosmolarity and limited nutrition, which are major obstacles to stem cell-based regeneration. Our recent work showed that nucleus pulposus mesenchymal stem cells (NPMSCs) had advantages over traditional sources of cell therapy under IVD-like hypoxic and hyperosmotic conditions. Here, we examined the viability, proliferation and matrix metabolism of NPMSCs compared with adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ADMSCs) under IVD-like acidic conditions in vitro. ADMSCs and NPMSCs from Sprague-Dawley rats were cultured at four different pH levels representing the standard condition (pH 7.4) and the normal, mildly degenerated and severely degenerated IVD (pH 7.1, 6.8 and 6.5, respectively). Cell viability was examined by annexin-V-fluorescein isothiocyanate/propidium iodide staining. Cell proliferation was measured using a cell counting kit cell proliferation assay. The expression of aggrecan, collagen-I, collagen-II, matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2), a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin motifs-4 (ADAMTS4) and the tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-3 (TIMP-3) was measured at mRNA and protein levels by RT-PCR and Western blotting. In both cell types, acidic pH inhibited cell viability and proliferation, downregulated the expression of aggrecan, collagen-I, collagen-II and TIMP-3, and upregulated the expression of MMP-2 and ADAMTS4. Compared with ADMSCs, NPMSCs were significantly less inhibited in viability and proliferation; they expressed significantly higher levels of aggrecan and collagen-II, and lower levels of MMP-2 and ADAMTS4. Thus, an acidic environment is a major obstacle for IVD regeneration by ADMSCs or NPMSCs. NPMSCs appeared less sensitive to inhibition by acidic pH and might be promising candidates for cell-based IVD regeneration. PMID: 25661884 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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