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Papers of the Week

Papers: 9 Dec 2023 - 15 Dec 2023

2023 Nov 22

Int J Mol Sci




Achilles’ Heel-The Significance of Maintaining Microenvironmental Homeostasis in the Nucleus Pulposus for Intervertebral Discs.


Luo Z, Wei Z, Zhang G, Chen H, Li L, Kang X


The dysregulation of intracellular and extracellular environments as well as the aberrant expression of ion channels on the cell membrane are intricately linked to a diverse array of degenerative disorders, including intervertebral disc degeneration. This condition is a significant contributor to low back pain, which poses a substantial burden on both personal quality of life and societal economics. Changes in the number and function of ion channels can disrupt the water and ion balance both inside and outside cells, thereby impacting the physiological functions of tissues and organs. Therefore, maintaining ion homeostasis and stable expression of ion channels within the cellular microenvironment may prove beneficial in the treatment of disc degeneration. Aquaporin (AQP), calcium ion channels, and acid-sensitive ion channels (ASIC) play crucial roles in regulating water, calcium ions, and hydrogen ions levels. These channels have significant effects on physiological and pathological processes such as cellular aging, inflammatory response, stromal decomposition, endoplasmic reticulum stress, and accumulation of cell metabolites. Additionally, Piezo 1, transient receptor potential vanilloid type 4 (TRPV4), tension response enhancer binding protein (TonEBP), potassium ions, zinc ions, and tungsten all play a role in the process of intervertebral disc degeneration. This review endeavors to elucidate alterations in the microenvironment of the nucleus pulposus during intervertebral disc degeneration (IVDD), with a view to offer novel insights and approaches for exploring therapeutic interventions against disc degeneration.