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Structural Analysis of Experimentally Induced Disc Herniation-Like Changes in the Rat

Journal article
Authors Satoshi Ujigo
Jonsson Daniel
Y. Bogestal
J. Hakansson
J. Rosendahl
L. Brive
Kjell Olmarker
Published in Spine Surgery and Related Research
Volume 4
Issue 2
Pages 117-123
ISSN 2432-261X
Publication year 2020
Published at Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Pages 117-123
Language en
Keywords Spine, Intervertebral disc, Disc herniation, Scar tissue, Rat, spontaneous regression, hyaluronic-acid, Surgery
Subject categories Surgery


Introduction: A disc herniation has traditionally been considered as disc tissue that has slipped out from an intervertebral disc. However, it was recently suggested that the disc herniation mass is a product of bioactive substances from the disc and that the disc hernia would more likely be scar tissue than herniated disc material. In this study, we aimed to analyze the structural components of experimentally induced disc herniations and compare with scar tissue and nucleus pulposus, in the rat. Methods: Twenty-eight rats had their L4-5 discs punctured. After three weeks, the nodule that had been formed over the puncture site, scar tissue from the spine musculature, and normal nucleus pulposus were harvested and processed for further analysis. Results: Proteomics analysis demonstrated that the formed nodule was more similar to scar tissue than to nucleus pulposus. Gene expression analysis showed that there was no resemblance between any tissues when looking at inflammatory genes but that, there was a clear resemblance between the nodule and scar tissue when analyzing extracellular matrix-related genes. Analysis of the GAG and polysaccharide size distribution revealed that only the nodule and scar tissue contained the shorter versions, potentially short chain hyaluronic acid that is known to induce inflammatory responses. The hematoxylin and eosin stained sections of the nodule, disc tissue, and scar tissue indicated that the morphology of the nodule and scar tissue was very similar. Conclusions: The nodule formed after experimental disc puncture, and that resembles a disc hernia, has a more structural resemblance to scar tissue than disc tissue. The nodule is, therefore, more likely to be induced by disc-derived bioactive substances than being formed by herniated disc material.

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