PHILADELPHIA — The reduction of nucleus pulposus tissue tonicity in a spinal disc may lead to chronic inflammation and disc degeneration, according to a presenter at the Philadelphia Spine Research Symposium.
Keita Ito, MD, ScD, of the University of Eindhoven, Netherlands, said restoring the tissue tonicity of the nucleus pulposus may halt the inflammatory process that leads to disc degeneration.
“I hope that I was able to plant a seed in your minds that disc degeneration is something similar to chronic inflammation, and perhaps the decrease in nucleus pulposus tissue tonicity is the irritant that stimulates the acute inflammation and that combined with disc degeneration, it moves from an acute to chronic inflammatory state. If you think about how you might want to regain tissue tonicity, some strategies might be [to use] a biomedical material, like a swelling hydrogel, or that you can try to biologically stimulate the natural production of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) with some sort of a notochordal-based product,” Ito said.
The depressurization of the nucleus pulposus along with the reduction of tissue tonicity is possibly the irritant that begins the inflammation cascade, Ito said.
Ito said restoring the nucleus pulposus as early as possible to its normal health tissue tonicity is key to treating disc degeneration. If researchers can block the inflammatory pathway, it can have an effect on disc degeneration by stopping the catabolic process.
Biologically stimulating GAGs or using a glycosominoglycan analog hydrogel to restore tonicity may work, but future clinical studies are needed, Ito said. – by Robert Linnehan
Ito K. Paper #S2.1. Presented at: Philadelphia Spine Research Symposium; Nov. 9-12, 2015; Philadelphia.
Disclosure: Ito reports no relevant financial disclosures.