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Papers: 12 Sep 2020 - 18 Sep 2020

Animal Studies

2020 Sep 15

Sci Rep



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Males and females exhibit distinct relationships between intervertebral disc degeneration and pain in a rat model.


Mosley GE, Wang M, Nasser P, Lai A, Charen DA, Zhang B, Iatridis JC
Sci Rep. 2020 Sep 15; 10(1):15120.
PMID: 32934258.


Back pain is linked to intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration, but clinical studies show the relationship is complex. This study assessed whether males and females have distinct relationships between IVD degeneration and pain using an in vivo rat model. Forty-eight male and female Sprague-Dawley rats had lumbar IVD puncture or sham surgery. Six weeks after surgery, IVDs were evaluated by radiologic IVD height, histological grading, and biomechanical testing. Pain was assessed by von Frey assay and dorsal root ganglia (DRG) expression of Calca and Tac1 genes. Network analysis visualized which measures of IVD degeneration most related to pain by sex. In both females and males, annular puncture induced structural IVD degeneration, but functional biomechanical properties were similar to sham. Females and males had distinct differences in mechanical allodynia and DRG gene expression, even though sex differences in IVD measurements were limited. Network analysis also differed by sex, with more associations between annular puncture injury and pain in the male network. Sex differences exist in the interactions between IVD degeneration and pain. Limited correlation between measures of pain and IVD degeneration highlights the need to evaluate pain or nociception in IVD degeneration models to better understand nervous system involvement in discogenic pain.