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Sci Rep. 2016 Jun 9;6:27521. doi: 10.1038/srep27521.

Oestrogen and parathyroid hormone alleviate lumbar intervertebral disc degeneration in ovariectomized rats and enhance Wnt/β-catenin pathway activity.

Jia H1,2, Ma J2, Lv J3, Ma X1,2, Xu W1, Yang Y1, Tian A2, Wang Y2, Sun L2, Xu L3, Fu L3, Zhao J3.

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Department of Orthopedics Institute, Tianjin Hospital, 406, Jiefang Nan Street, Hexi District, Tianjin 300211, China.
Biomechanics Labs of Orthopedic Research Institute, Tianjin Hospital Heping Branch, 122, MuNan Street, Heping District, Tianjin 300050, China.
Tianjin Medical University, No. 22, Qixiangtai Road, Heping District, Tianjin 300070, China.


To investigate the mitigation effect and mechanism of oestrogen and PTH on disc degeneration in rats after ovariectomy, as well as on Wnt/β-catenin pathway activity, thirty 3-month-old rats were ovariectomized and divided into three groups. Ten additional rats were used as controls. Eight weeks later, the rats were administered oestrogen or PTH for 12 weeks, and then discs were collected for tests. Results showed that nucleus pulposus cells in the Sham group were mostly notochord cells, while in the OVX group, cells gradually developed into chondrocyte-like cells. Oestrogen or PTH could partly recover the notochord cell number. After ovariectomy, the endplate roughened and endplate porosity decreased. After oestrogen or PTH treatment, the smoothness and porosity of endplate recovered. Compared with the Sham group, Aggrecan, Col2a and Wnt/β-catenin pathway expression in OVX group decreased, and either oestrogen or PTH treatment improved their expression. The biomechanical properties of intervertebral disc significantly changed after ovariectomy, and oestrogen or PTH treatment partly recovered them. Disc degeneration occurred with low oestrogen, and the underlying mechanisms involve nutrition supply disorders, cell type changes and decreased Wnt/β-catenin pathway activity. Oestrogen and PTH can retard disc degeneration in OVX rats and enhance Wnt/β-catenin pathway activity in nucleus pulposus.

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