A well-received study 1, in the journal ‘Spine,’ decided to observe the relationship between cellular nutrition and disc degeneration. The results shared that a fall in disc nutrient supply can lead to disc degeneration.
Why Was such Research Conducted?
According to previous studies, the disc tends to degenerate earlier when compared to other tissues. The consequences of such degeneration include sciatica, back pain, and other spinal disorders. The treatment of such ailments can be quite expensive. They also harm a person’s psychological wellbeing.
While genetics is involved in such an occurrence, there have been suggestions about disc nutrition playing a role, too. The disc happens to be the body’s largest avascular tissue. That is why certain theories exist about degeneration happening due to a decrease in the nutrients being transported into the disc.
The current research was conducted to further understand this existing relationship.
What Methods Were Used?
The study design was about analyzing the disc cell viability in relation to the supply of nutrients as well as cellular demand in vitro (while using a diffusion chamber). The objective was to gather data about the possible relationship present between nutrient supply, concentrations, and viability of a cell.
The research team cultured isolated bovine nucleus cells in agarose gels. The cultures were grown (up to 13 days) in a diffusion chamber. The nutrients were supplied by copying the configuration found in the disc in vivo. The concentration of glycosaminoglycans and profiles of cell viability were measured with relation to the medium composition and cell density.
Data was analyzed, statistically, using the Student’s t-test or analysis of variance (ANOVA).
What was Concluded?
The results from this degeneration-centric study showed that the analyzed cells were able to remain viable (across the diffusion chamber) at low cell densities. However, cell death was seen (inside the chamber) at higher densities. Also, the increase in cell density led to a decrease in the viable distance from the disc nutrient supply. Glucose was observed to be a critical nutrient. Also, at an acidic pH (6.0), cell survival was poor.
Take note; disc cells were found to be capable of surviving up to 13 days with 0% oxygen. No loss in cell viability was observed during that period. However, these cells did produce very low levels of proteoglycan.
The conclusion of these results helped support the theory about disc nutrient supply playing a role in regulating disc degeneration. According to this study, a decrease in the disc nutrient supply leads to a reduction in the number of viable cells present in the disc and opens the door to degeneration.
Hopefully, further research can be done to help promote better nutritional supply to the disc to address disc degeneration and related ailments.