Advances in biological therapy for nucleus pulposus regeneration
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Priyadarshani, Priyanka; Li, Yongchao; Yao, Li. 2016. Advances in biological therapy for nucleus pulposus regeneration. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, vol. 24:no. 2, February 2016:pp 206–212
Objective: The intervertebral disc (IVD) is composed of the external annulus fibrosus (AF) and the inner gel-like center, the nucleus pulposus (NP). The elastic NP can function to relieve stress and maintain IVD function by distributing hydraulic pressure evenly to annulus and endplate. Degeneration of the NP, which leads to increased death of NP cells, the loss of proteoglycan (PG), and aberrant gene expression, may result in an overall alteration of the biomechanics of the spinal column and cause low back pain. Recent advances in biological therapy strategies that target therapy at the regeneration of degenerated and damaged NP have been investigated in in vitro and in vivo studies and demonstrated promising outcomes. In this article, we review recent studies of biological approaches for NP regeneration. Method: The articles regarding NP regeneration using biomaterials, stem cells, and gene vectors were identified in PubMed databases. Results: Stem cell-mediated cell therapy demonstrates the potential to restore the function and structure of the NP. The viral or non-viral vectors encoding functional genes may generate a therapeutic effect when they are introduced into grafted cells or native cells in the NP. Biomaterial scaffolds generate an initial permissive environment for cell growth and allow the remodeling of scaffolds in the regeneration process. Biomaterial scaffolds provide structural support for NP regeneration and serve as a carrier for stem cell and gene vector delivery. Conclusion: Though recent studies advance the body of knowledge needed to treat degenerated discs, many challenges need to be overcome before the application of these approaches can be successful clinically.
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