Pathophysiology of the human intervertebral disc

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Intervertebral disc degeneration is a common invalidating disorder that can affect the musculoskeletal apparatus in both younger and older ages. The chief component of the intervertebral disc is the highly organized extracellular matrix; maintenance of its organization is essential for correct spinal mechanics. The matrix components, mainly proteoglycans and collagens, undergo a slow and continuous cell-mediated turnover process that enables disc cells to adapt their environment to external stimuli. Cellular senescence and a history of chronic abnormal loading can upset this balance, leading to progressive tissue failure that results in disc degeneration. Although biological treatment approaches to disc repair are still far to come, advances in our understanding of disc biochemistry and in defining the role of genetic inheritance have provided a starting point for developing new concepts in the diagnosis, therapy and prevention of disc degeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837-842
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Collagens
  • Extracellular matrix turnover
  • Intervertebral disc degeneration
  • Proteoglycans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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