Combined Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-AGE Drug Treatments Have a Protective Effect on Intervertebral Discs in Mice with Diabetes

Svenja Illien-Junger, Fabrizio Grosjean, Damien M. Laudier, Helen Vlassara, Gary E. Striker, James C. Iatridis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective:Diabetes and low back pain are debilitating diseases and modern epidemics. Diabetes and obesity are also highly correlated with intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration and back pain. Advanced-glycation-end-products (AGEs) increase reactive-oxygen-species (ROS) and inflammation, and are one cause for early development of diabetes mellitus. We hypothesize that diabetes results in accumulation of AGEs in spines and associated spinal pathology via increased catabolism. We present a mouse model showing that: 1) diabetes induces pathological changes to structure and composition of IVDs and vertebrae; 2) diabetes is associated with accumulation of AGEs, TNFα, and increased catabolism spinal structures; and 3) oral-treatments with a combination of anti-inflammatory and anti-AGE drugs mitigate these diabetes-induced degenerative changes to the spine.Methods:Three age-matched groups of ROP-Os mice were compared: non-diabetic, diabetic (streptozotocin (STZ)-induced), or diabetic mice treated with pentosan-polysulfate (anti-inflammatory) and pyridoxamine (AGE-inhibitor). Mice were euthanized and vertebra-IVD segments were analyzed by μCT, histology and Immunohistochemistry.Results:Diabetic mice exhibited several pathological changes including loss in IVD height, decreased vertebral bone mass, decreased glycosaminoglycan content and morphologically altered IVDs with focal deposition of tissues highly expressing TNFα, MMP-13 and ADAMTS-5. Accumulation of larger amounts of methylglyoxal suggested that AGE accumulation was associated with these diabetic degenerative changes. However, treatment prevented or reduced these pathological effects on vertebrae and IVD.Conclusion:This is the first study to demonstrate specific degenerative changes to nucleus pulposus (NP) morphology and their association with AGE accumulation in a diabetic mouse model. Furthermore, this is the first study to demonstrate that oral-treatments can inhibit AGE-induced ROS and inflammation in spinal structures and provide a potential treatment to slow progression of degenerative spine changes in diabetes. Since diabetes, IVD degeneration, and accumulation of AGEs are frequent consequences of aging, early treatments to reduce AGE-induced ROS and Inflammation may have broad public-health implications.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere64302
JournalPLoS One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 17 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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