Animal disc models are a challenge. Understanding how we, humans, compare to our animalistic counterparts is a touchy subject. This month, some researchers looked at animal discs and compared them to human tissue.
Zhang et al. titled a manuscript : Histological Features of Endplates of the Mammalian Spine : From Mice to Men, and looked carefully at the micro-architecture of the disc endplate. They found significant differences between the species they compared. Of the animals they compared ( mouse, rat, rabbit, and goat) they found the mouse and rat had very little bony components to the endplate while the rabbit and goat had growth plates adjacent to the bony endplates. When compared to human, the human endplate had much thicker cartilage and the growth plate exchanged for trabecular bone.
Animal disc models are a challenge to use in research. They are useful because they are easier to access, simpler to obtain review board of ethics approval and often cost effective. But reseachers must understand that extrapolating their findings to the human should be cautionary. Zhang et al. showed in this research that although animal discs are similar to humans in many ways, significant differences exist. In general, animal endplates have more hyaline cartilage while humans have more calcified cartilage.
Dynamic Disc Designs is a spine modeling company that highlights important research. We are constantly on the lookout. Endplate modeling is available.