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Papers of the Week

Papers: 25 May 2024 - 31 May 2024


Int J Nanomedicine



Stimuli-Responsive Delivery Systems for Intervertebral Disc Degeneration.


Tang J, Luo Y, Wang Q, Wu J, Wei Y


As a major cause of low back pain, intervertebral disc degeneration is an increasingly prevalent chronic disease worldwide that leads to huge annual financial losses. The intervertebral disc consists of the inner nucleus pulposus, outer annulus fibrosus, and sandwiched cartilage endplates. All these factors collectively participate in maintaining the structure and physiological functions of the disc. During the unavoidable degeneration stage, the degenerated discs are surrounded by a harsh microenvironment characterized by acidic, oxidative, inflammatory, and chaotic cytokine expression. Loss of stem cell markers, imbalance of the extracellular matrix, increase in inflammation, sensory hyperinnervation, and vascularization have been considered as the reasons for the progression of intervertebral disc degeneration. The current treatment approaches include conservative therapy and surgery, both of which have drawbacks. Novel stimuli-responsive delivery systems are more promising future therapeutic options than traditional treatments. By combining bioactive agents with specially designed hydrogels, scaffolds, microspheres, and nanoparticles, novel stimuli-responsive delivery systems can realize the targeted and sustained release of drugs, which can both reduce systematic adverse effects and maximize therapeutic efficacy. Trigger factors are categorized into internal (pH, reactive oxygen species, enzymes, etc.) and external stimuli (photo, ultrasound, magnetic, etc.) based on their intrinsic properties. This review systematically summarizes novel stimuli-responsive delivery systems for intervertebral disc degeneration, shedding new light on intervertebral disc therapy.