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Biomol Concepts. 2018 May 19;9(1):43-52. doi: 10.1515/bmc-2018-0003.

Current insights on use of growth factors as therapy for Intervertebral Disc Degeneration.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Augusta University, Augusta, GA, USA.
Department of Oral Biology, Augusta University, Augusta, GA, USA.
Banner University Medical Center, University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix, The CORE Institute, Phoenix, AZ, USA.
Institute of Regenerative and Reparative Medicine, Augusta University, Augusta, GA, USA.


Chronic low back pain is a critical health problem and a leading cause of disability in aging populations. A major cause of low back pain is considered to be the degeneration of the intervertebral disc (IVD). Recent advances in therapeutics, particularly cell and tissue engineering, offer potential methods for inhibiting or reversing IVD degeneration, which have previously been impossible. The use of growth factors is under serious consideration as a potential therapy to enhance IVD tissue regeneration. We reviewed the role of chosen prototypical growth factors and growth factor combinations that have the capacity to improve IVD restoration. A number of growth factors have demonstrated potential to modulate the anabolic and anticatabolic effects in both in vitro and animal studies of IVD tissue engineering. Members of the transforming growth factor-β superfamily, IGF-1, GDF-5, BMP-2, BMP-7, and platelet-derived growth factor have all been investigated as possible therapeutic options for IVD regeneration. The role of growth factors in IVD tissue engineering appears promising; however, further extensive research is needed at both basic science and clinical levels before its application is appropriate for clinical use.


growth factor; intervertebral disc; intervertebral disc disease; tissue engineering

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