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Apoptosis. 2006 Dec;11(12):2079-88.

Programmed cell death in intervertebral disc degeneration.

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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Xinhua Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, 1665 Kongjiang Road, 200092, Shanghai, China.


Intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration is largely a process of destruction and failure of the extracellular matrix (ECM), and symptomatic IVD degeneration is thought to be one of the leading causes of morbidity or life quality deterioration in the elderly. To date, however, the mechanism of IVD degeneration is still not fully understood. Cellular loss from cell death in the process of IVD degeneration has long been confirmed and considered to contribute to ECM degradation, but the causes and the manners of IVD cell death remain unclear. Programmed cell death (PCD) is executed by an active cellular process and is extensively involved in many physiological and pathological processes, including embryonic development and human degenerative diseases. Thus, the relationship between PCD and IVD degeneration has become a new research focus of interest in recent years. By reviewing the available literature concentrated on PCD in IVD and discussing the methodology of detecting PCD in IVD cells, its inducing factors, the relationship of cell death to ECM degradation, and the potential therapy for IVD degeneration by modulation of PCD, we conclude that IVD cells undergo PCD via different signal transduction pathways in response to different stimuli, that PCD may play a role in the process of IVD degeneration, and that modulation of PCD might be a potential therapeutic strategy for IVD degeneration.

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