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Redox Biol. 2018 Oct;19:339-353. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2018.09.006. Epub 2018 Sep 6.

Sirtuin 3-dependent mitochondrial redox homeostasis protects against AGEs-induced intervertebral disc degeneration.

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Department of Orthopaedics, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430022, China.
Department of Ophthalmology, Shengjing Hospital, China Medical University, Shenyang 110004, China.
Department of Orthopaedics, First Hospital of Wuhan, Wuhan 430022, China.
Department of Orthopaedics, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430022, China. Electronic address:


Intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration contributes largely to pathoanatomical and degenerative changes of spinal structure that increase the risk of low back pain. Apoptosis in nucleus pulposus (NP) can aggravate IVD degeneration, and increasing studies have shown that interventions targeting NP cell apoptosis can ameliorate IVD degeneration, exhibiting their potential for use as therapeutic strategies. Recent data have shown that advanced glycation end products (AGEs) accumulate in NP tissues in parallel with the progression of IVD degeneration and form a microenvironment of oxidative stress. This study examined whether AGEs accumulation aggravates NP cell apoptosis and IVD degeneration, and explored the mechanisms underlying these effects. We observed that the viability and proliferation of human NP cells were significantly suppressed by AGEs treatment, mainly due to apoptosis. Furthermore, activation of the mitochondrial apoptosis pathway was detected after AGEs treatment. In addition, the molecular data showed that AGEs could significantly aggravate the generation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species and prolonged activation of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore, as well as the increased level of Bax protein and decreased level of Bcl-2 protein in mitochondria. These effects could be reduced by antioxidant (2-(2,2,6,6-Tetramethylpiperidin-1-oxyl-4-ylamino)-2-oxoethyl) triphenylphosphonium chloride (MitoTEMPO) and Visomitin (SKQ1). Importantly, we identified that impairment of Sirtuin3 (SIRT3) function and the mitochondrial antioxidant network were vital mechanisms in AGEs-induced oxidative stress and secondary human NP cell apoptosis. Finally, based on findings that nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) could restore SIRT3 function and rescue human NP cell apoptosis through adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator 1α (AMPK-PGC-1α) pathway in vitro, we confirmed its protective effect on AGEs-induced IVD degeneration in vivo. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that SIRT3 protects against AGEs-induced human NP cell apoptosis and IVD degeneration. Targeting SIRT3 to improve mitochondrial redox homeostasis may represent a potential therapeutic strategy for attenuating AGEs-associated IVD degeneration.


Advanced glycation end products; Intervertebral disc degeneration; Mitochondrial redox homeostasis; Sirtuin 3

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