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Papers: 20 Mar 2021 - 26 Mar 2021

2021 Mar 19

Eur Cell Mater


For whom the disc tolls: intervertebral disc degeneration, back pain and toll-like receptors.


Bisson DG, Mannarino M, Racine R, Haglund L
Eur Cell Mater. 2021 Mar 19; 41:355-369.
PMID: 33738788.


Intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration is characterised by catabolic and inflammatory processes that contribute largely to tissue degradation and chronic back pain. The disc cells are responsible for the pathological production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and catabolic enzymes leading to degeneration. However, this phenotypical change is poorly understood. Growing evidence in animal and human studies implicates Toll-like receptors (TLR) and their activation through danger-associated alarmins, found increasingly in degenerating IVDs. TLR signalling results in the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and proteolytic enzymes that can directly cause IVD degeneration and back pain. This review aims to summarise the current literature on TLR activation in IVD degeneration and discuss potential treatment modalities to alleviate the inflammatory phenotype of disc cells in order to arrest IVD degeneration and back pain.