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Papers of the Week

2022 Sep 14

Ageing Res Rev


The role of nerve fibers and their neurotransmitters in regulating intervertebral disc degeneration.


Sun K, Jiang J, Wang Y, Sun X, Zhu J, Xu X, Sun J, Shi J
Ageing Res Rev. 2022 Sep 14; 81:101733.
PMID: 36113765.


Intervertebral disc degeneration (IVDD) has been the major contributor to chronic lower back pain (LBP). Abnormal apoptosis, senescence, and pyroptosis of IVD cells, extracellular matrix (ECM) degradation, and infiltration of immune cells are the major molecular alternations during IVDD. Changes at tissue level frequently occur at advanced IVD tissue. Ectopic ingrowth of nerves within inner annulus fibrosus (AF) and nucleus pulposus (NP) tissue has been considered as the primary cause for LBP. Innervation at IVD tissue mainly included sensory and sympathetic nerves, and many markers for these two types of nerves have been detected since 1940. In fact, in osteoarthritis (OA), beyond pain transmission, the direct regulation of neuropeptides on functions of chondrocytes have attracted researchers' great attention recently. Many physical and pathological similarities between joint and IVD have shed us the light on the neurogenic mechanism involved in IVDD. Here, an overview of the advances in the nervous system within IVD tissue will be performed, with a discussion on in the role of nerve fibers and their neurotransmitters in regulating IVDD. We hope this review can attract more research interest to address neuromodulation and IVDD itself, which will enhance our understanding of the contribution of neuromodulation to the structural changes within IVD tissue and inflammatory responses and will help identify novel therapeutic targets and enable the effective treatment of IVDD disease.