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Papers of the Week

Papers: 6 May 2023 - 12 May 2023


Human Studies, Molecular/Cellular, Neurobiology

Inflammation/Inflammatory, Musculoskeletal Pain

2023 May 10

Connect Tissue Res


Contribution of Immune Cells to Intervertebral Disc Degeneration and the Potential of Immunotherapy.


Xu H, Li J, Fei Q, Jiang L


Substantial evidence supports that chronic low back pain is associated with intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD), which is accompanied by decreased cell activity and matrix degradation. The role of immune cells, especially macrophages, in a variety of diseases has been extensively studied; therefore, their role in IDD has naturally attracted widespread scholarly interest. The IVD is considered to be an immunologically-privileged site given the presence of physical and biological barriers that include an avascular microenvironment, a high proteoglycan concentration, high physical pressure, the presence of apoptosis inducers such as Fas ligand, and the presence of notochordal cells. However, during IDD, immune cells with distinct characteristics appear in the IVD. Some of these immune cells release factors that promote the inflammatory response and angiogenesis in the disc and are, therefore, important drivers of IDD. Although some studies have elucidated the role of immune cells, no specific strategies related to systemic immunotherapy have been proposed. Herein, we summarize current knowledge of the presence and role of immune cells in IDD and consider that immunotherapy targeting immune cells may be a novel strategy for alleviating IDD symptoms.