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Papers of the Week

2022 Mar 10

Int J Mol Sci



A High Body Mass Index and the Vacuum Phenomenon Upregulate Pain-Related Molecules in Human Degenerated Intervertebral Discs.


Miyagi M, Uchida K, Inoue S, Takano S, Nakawaki M, Kawakubo A, Sekiguchi H, Nakazawa T, Imura T, Saito W, Shirasawa E, Kuroda A, Ikeda S, Yokozeki Y, Mimura Y, Akazawa T, Takaso M, Inoue G
Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Mar 10; 23(6).
PMID: 35328395.


Animal studies suggest that pain-related-molecule upregulation in degenerated intervertebral discs (IVDs) potentially leads to low back pain (LBP). We hypothesized that IVD mechanical stress and axial loading contribute to discogenic LBP's pathomechanism. This study aimed to elucidate the relationships among the clinical findings, radiographical findings, and pain-related-molecule expression in human degenerated IVDs. We harvested degenerated-IVD samples from 35 patients during spinal interbody fusion surgery. Pain-related molecules including tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin (IL)-6, calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), microsomal prostaglandin E synthase-1 (mPGES1), and nerve growth factor (NGF) were determined. We also recorded preoperative clinical findings including body mass index (BMI), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and radiographical findings including the vacuum phenomenon (VP) and spinal instability. Furthermore, we compared pain-related-molecule expression between the VP (-) and (+) groups. BMI was significantly correlated with the ODI, CGRP, and mPGES-1 levels. In the VP (+) group, mPGES-1 levels were significantly higher than in the VP (-) group. Additionally, CGRP and mPGES-1 were significantly correlated. Axial loading and mechanical stress correlated with CGRP and mPGES-1 expression and not with inflammatory cytokine or NGF expression. Therefore, axial loading and mechanical stress upregulate CGRP and mPGES-1 in human degenerated IVDs, potentially leading to chronic discogenic LBP.