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Connect Tissue Res. 2013;54(3):181-6. doi: 10.3109/03008207.2013.775258. Epub 2013 Apr 15.

Synergistic effect of combined growth factors in porcine intervertebral disc degeneration.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery & Biomedical Engineering, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN, USA.


Although intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration is one of most common causes of morbidity, its etiology remains unclear. In healthy discs, the rates of synthesis and breakdown of the extracelluar matrix (ECM) are in equilibrium because of intricate regulation by growth factors and catabolic cytokines. Important among these physiologic growth factors are transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β1) and bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2). Disc degeneration is thought to be associated with a loss of this homeostasis between proteoglycan (PG) synthesis and cytokine-induced degradation leading to up-regulation of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) families and down-regulation of extracelluar matrix production. Several strategies using biological agents have been attempted to manage IVD degeneration, improving the function and anabolic capabilities of IVD cells and inhibiting matrix degradation. The purpose of this study is to compare the effects of the anabolic cytokines BMP-2 and TGF-β1 with those of the catabolic cytokines interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) on porcine annulus fibrosus (AF). The results of this study show that the application of pro-inflammatory cytokines like tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-1β to normal annulus fibrosus cells leads to a significant increase in tissue levels of the degradative protease MMP-1. Treatment with a combination of minimum doses of both BMP-2 and TGF-β1 caused a greater decrease in MMP-1 and increase in aggrecan than either cytokine alone, suggesting a synergistic effect of the combined cytokines.

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