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Eur Spine J. 2013 May;22(5):1113-8. doi: 10.1007/s00586-013-2669-9. Epub 2013 Jan 24.

Evoked thalamic neuronal activity following DRG application of two nucleus pulposus derived cell populations: an experimental study in rats.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg, PO Box 432, 405 30, Gothenburg, Sweden. elin.nilsson@physiol.gu.se



To investigate the effects on evoked thalamic neuronal activity of application of notochordal cells and chondrocyte-like cells derived from nucleus pulposus (NP) onto a dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and to compare these effects with a previously reported increased thalamic activity induced by NP.


Nucleus pulposus was harvested from tail discs of adult rats and the disc cells were separated into two cell populations, notochordal cells and chondrocyte-like cells. The two cell populations were applied separately, or in combination, to the L4 DRG of anaesthetised female Sprague-Dawley rats during acute electrophysiological experiments. In control experiments, cell suspension medium was applied on the DRG. Recordings from the contralateral thalamus were sampled for 40 min while electrically stimulating the ipsilateral sciatic nerve at above Aδ-fibre thresholds.


Application of notochordal cells resulted in a decrease in evoked thalamic activity within 10 min while chondrocyte-like cells did not induce any changes during the 40 min of recording. The difference in evoked thalamic activity 40 min after notochordal and chondrocyte-like cell application, respectively, was statistically significant. Neither an increased concentration of chondrocyte-like cells alone nor a combination of the two cell populations induced any changes in thalamic activity.


Separate exposure of the DRG to the two NP-derived cell populations induced different effects on evoked thalamic activity, but none of the tested cell samples induced an increase in neuronal activity similar to that previously observed with NP. This indicates a high complexity of the interaction between NP and nervous tissue.

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