Review

Molecular mechanisms involved in intervertebral disc degeneration and potential new treatment strategies

Daniel Ireland

Sheffield Hallam University

Received:

29 Sept 2008

Accepted:

22 Jan 2009

Published:

24 Feb 2009

Volume:

2

Issue:

1

Keywords:

intervertebral disc degeneration, cytokine, growth factor, gene therapy, mesenchymal stem cells, autologous disc cell transplantation

Abstract:

Lower back pain (LBP) is a major cause of pain and disability. However, current treatment strategies are focused primarily on relieving its symptoms and have varying degrees of success. For future treatments to be proactive, they must target the underlying pathogenic alterations in cellular biology. Intervertebral disc degeneration (IVDD) has been linked to a high percentage of LBP cases, therefore, inhibition of the processes contributing to IVDD and, regeneration of the intervertebral disc (IVD) matrix lost during IVDD are the primary focuses of current research. Therapies aimed at the inhibition of the cytokine interleukin-1 that is increased during IVDD have been investigated as potential treatments aimed at inhibiting the pathogenic processes of IVDD. In addition, the application of growth factors, such as insulin-like growth factor, transforming growth factor and bone morphogenetic protein or alternatively replacement of abnormal IVD cells, either by injection of mesenchymal stem cells or autologous disc cell transplantation, has been investigated as potential therapeutic agents aimed at regeneration of the IVD matrix. However, for research into these therapeutic techniques to progress, a more detailed knowledge of the complex cellular biology of the IVD is required.