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Mol Med Rep. 2015 Oct;12(4):5701-8. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2015.4139. Epub 2015 Jul 29.

An in vitro investigation into the role of bone marrow‑derived mesenchymal stem cells in the control of disc degeneration.

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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Changzheng Hospital, Shanghai 200023, P.R. China.
Institute of Neuroscience and Key Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology of The Ministry of Education, Neuroscience Research Center of Changzheng Hospital, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai 200433, P.R. China.


Excessive apoptosis and high expression levels of interleukin‑1β (IL‑1β) in disc cells have been reported to serve important roles in intervertebral disc degeneration (IVDD). Previous studies investigating mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have indicated potential for their use in the treatment of IVDD. However, the therapeutic potential and anti‑apoptotic ability of MSCs remains to be fully elucidated. The present study aimed to establish an in vitro model for bone marrow‑derived MSC (BMSC) therapy by investigating the anti‑apoptotic effects, in addition to the migration of BMSCs to nucleus pulposus (NP) cells stimulated by IL‑1β. A co-culture system of BMSCs and NP cells was founded. Following inflammatory stimulation, the NP cells exhibited increased indexes for inflammation‑induced degeneration. The degenerative and apoptotic indexes were significantly reduced when NP cells were co‑cultured with BMSCs. Compared with the indirect co-culture group, the direct co-culture group exhibited an improved capacity for anti-apoptosis. In addition, IL‑1β‑stimulated NP cells attracted and mediated the migration of BMSCs. Mitochondrial transfer from BMSCs to NP cells by tunneling nanotubes was also observed. In conclusion, the anti‑apoptosis and the migration, in addition to mitochondrial transfer associated with BMSC treatments in IVDD, were investigated in vitro in the present study. The interaction between stimulated NP cells and BMSCs is likely involved in to simulating the in vivo process of stem cell‑mediated repair.

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