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DNA Cell Biol. 2019 Mar 13. doi: 10.1089/dna.2018.4531. [Epub ahead of print]

The SDF1/CXCR7 Signaling Axis Participates in Angiogenesis in Degenerated Discs Via the PI3K/AKT Pathway.

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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, The First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, P.R. China.


Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is the main cause of low back pain, and the ingrowth of new blood vessels is one of its pathological features. The stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF1)/CXCR7 signaling axis plays a role in these physiological and pathological activities. The aims of this study were to explore whether this signaling axis participates in the angiogenesis of degenerated intervertebral discs (IVDs) and to define its underlying mechanism. In this study, we cocultured human nucleus pulposus cells (NPCs) and vascular endothelial cells (VECs) and regulated the expression of SDF1/CXCR7 to investigate the effect of VEC angiogenesis by NPCs. The results revealed that angiogenesis was enhanced with increased SDF1 and that angiogenesis was weakened with the inhibition of CXCR7. We found that PI3K/AKT was involved in the downstream pathway in the coculture. VEC angiogenesis induction by NPCs was enhanced with an increase in pAKT or a decrease in PTEN. We conclude that the SDF1/CXCR7 signaling axis plays a role in the angiogenesis of degenerated IVD through the PI3K/AKT pathway.


CXCR7; PI3K/AKT; angiogenesis; degenerated disc; stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF1)


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