The ability of the nucleus pulposus of the intervertebral disc to resist compressive loads is due to its high content of the proteoglycan aggrecan. Degeneration of the intervertebral disc is preceded and accompanied by a loss of aggrecan due to proteolysis. Biological repair of intervertebral disc degeneration should strive to restore aggrecan content to its optimal functional level. One approach to such repair is to supplement the degenerate nucleus with cells that are capable of aggrecan synthesis. Such cells can be supported in a biomolecular scaffold, but it is essential that the scaffold is compatible with high aggrecan retention if a functional tissue is to be attained.
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© 2002 Biochemical Society