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J Orthop Res. 2018 Jan;36(1):233-243. doi: 10.1002/jor.23637. Epub 2017 Jul 18.

Histological and reference system for the analysis of mouse intervertebral disc.

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School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Hong Kong, 3/F, Laboratory Block, Faculty of Medicine Building, 21 Sassoon Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong, China.
The University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Institute of Research and Innovation (HKU-SIRI), Hi-Tech Industrial Park, Nanshan, Shenzhen, China.
Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong.
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Surgical Science, Tokai University School of Medicine, Hiratsuka, Japan.
Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, The Bone and Joint Institute, The University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.


A new scoring system based on histo-morphology of mouse intervertebral disc (IVD) was established to assess changes in different mouse models of IVD degeneration and repair. IVDs from mouse strains of different ages, transgenic mice, or models of artificially induced IVD degeneration were assessed. Morphological features consistently observed in normal, and early/later stages of degeneration were categorized into a scoring system focused on nucleus pulposus (NP) and annulus fibrosus (AF) changes. "Normal NP" exhibited a highly cellularized cell mass that decreased with natural ageing and in disc degeneration. "Normal AF" consisted of distinct concentric lamellar structures, which was disrupted in severe degeneration. NP/AF clefts indicated more severe changes. Consistent scores were obtained between experienced and new users. Altogether, our scoring system effectively differentiated IVD changes in various strains of wild-type and genetically modified mice and in induced models of IVD degeneration, and is applicable from the post-natal stage to the aged mouse. This scoring tool and reference resource addresses a pressing need in the field for studying IVD changes and cross-study comparisons in mice, and facilitates a means to normalize mouse IVD assessment between different laboratories. © 2017 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Orthop Res 36:233-243, 2018.


disc histological score; histology; intervertebral disc; intervertebral disc degeneration; mice; mouse intervertebral disc

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