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Histol Histopathol. 2019 Mar 29:18107. doi: 10.14670/HH-18-107. [Epub ahead of print]

Role of heparan sulfate 6-0 endosulfatases in intervertebral disc homeostasis.

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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Osaka Medical College, Japan.
Department of Molecular Medicine, The Scripps Research Institute, USA.
Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Osaka Medical College, Japan.


The expression of heparan sulfate endosulfatases (Sulfs) was investigated in the intervertebral disc (IVD) to clarify their role in IVD homeostasis. Sulf-1 and -2 expression were elucidated in normal and degenerated human IVD. Age-related effects on Sulf expression, type II collagen levels, and structural changes were analyzed in IVDs of wild-type (WT) and Sulf-1 knockout (Sulf-1⁻/⁻) mice. The effect of recombinant Sulf-1 (100 ng/ml) and Sulf-1 knockdown on heparan sulfate proteoglycan and collagen expression in ATDC5 cells were examined. Finally, the effect of Sulf-1 on transforming growth factor (TGF) β1-induced signaling was evaluated. Results show that Sulf-1 and -2 levels were higher in degenerated human IVDs. In WT mice, Sulf-1 and -2 expression generally declined as the animals aged. In particular, Sulf-1 in the nucleus pulposus was higher compared with Sulf-2 at the age of 1 and 6 months and significantly declined with aging. Sulf-1-/- mice showed more severe IVD pathology than WT mice, with lower type II collagen levels in nucleus pulposus, and degeneration with type I collagen in annulus fibrosus. In vitro, Sulf-1 induced type II collagen expression and significantly increased TGF-β1-induced Smad2/3 phosphorylation in ATDC5 cells. In conclusion, Sulf-1 might play a critical role from development to maintenance of IVD homeostasis by regulating collagen expression.


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