Intervertebral disc culture models and their applications to study pathogenesis and repair

Svenja Illien-Jünger, Benjamin A. Walter, Jillian E. Mayer, Andrew C. Hecht, James C. Iatridis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The intervertebral disc is the largest avascular and aneural structure in the human body (Holm et al. 1981) and composed of a number of interacting and interdependent tissues. While there are numerous clinical studies of the human disc, there remains a great deal to learn concerning its basic biology, alterations during disease, and treatment strategies. One important approach to studying the pathophysiology and the repair of the degenerative disc is through the use of animal models that approximate its unique anatomy and physiology. Although many relevant animal systems are available, because of the relatively small size of the disc, differences in cell and tissue function, and confounding biologic factors that include nutrient transport and metabolic activity, it is difficult to generate models that are comparable to the human. Simulating the disc niche is one of the greatest challenges in intervertebral disc degeneration research and a major obstacle in preventing the direct translation of findings relevant to cell culture and small animal model studies to the human condition. This chapter describes historical advancements in techniques used for intervertebral disc organ culture models and their applications to study disc physiology, pathogenesis of disease, and repair.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Intervertebral Disc
Subtitle of host publicationMolecular and Structural Studies of the Disc in Health and Disease
PublisherSpringer-Verlag Wien
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783709115350
ISBN (Print)3709115345, 9783709115343
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014


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