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Papers of the Week

2019 Jun

Future Sci OA



New insights link low-virulent disc infections to the etiology of severe disc degeneration and Modic changes.


Within the last 5 years, international research collaborations including those of several research groups skilled in microbiology, immunology and pathophysiology, have identified a low-virulent intradiscal infection with the ability to provoke gradual and progressive disc degeneration, end-plate disruption, Modic changes and persistent clinical lower-back pain. Certain strains of the bacterium seem able to invade, colonize and develop a protective biofilm inside the disc. The interaction of , disc tissues and mononuclear cells of the bone marrow are shown to trigger a relevant immunological response and an ensuing destructive inflammation of the disc and adjacent vertebrae. This process presents on MRI as Modic changes. Recent proof-of-concept data provide compelling evidence for this bacterial disc infection hypothesis.