eCM (Eur Cell Mater / e Cells & Materials) Not-for-profit Open Access
Created by Scientists, for Scientists
 ISSN:1473-2262         NLM:100973416 (link)         DOI:10.22203/eCM

2010   Volume No 19 – pages 13-21

Title: Primary immune system responders to nucleus pulposus cells: evidence for immune response in disc herniation

Author: K Murai, D Sakai, Y Nakamura, T Nakai, T Igarashi, N Seo, T Murakami, E Kobayashi, J Mochida

Address: Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, Jichi Medical University, 3311-1 Yakushiji, Shimotsuke, Tochigi, 329-0498, Japan

E-mail: murai.mane at

Key Words: Nucleus pulposus, immune response, macrophage, natural killer cell, intervertebral disc, autoimmunity.

Publication date: January 14th 2010

Abstract: Although intervertebral disc herniation and associated sciatica is a common disease, its molecular pathogenesis is not well understood. Immune responses are thought to be involved. This study provides direct evidence that even non-degenerated nucleus pulposus (NP) cells elicit immune responses. An in vitro colony forming inhibition assay demonstrated the suppressive effects of autologous spleen cells on NP cells and an in vitro cytotoxicity assay showed the positive cytotoxic effects of natural killer (NK) cells and macrophages on NP cells. Non-degenerated rat NP tissues transplanted into wild type rats and immune-deficient mice demonstrated a significantly higher NP cell survival rate in immune-deficient mice. Immunohistochemical staining showed the presence of macrophages and NK cells in the transplanted NP tissues. These results suggest that even non-degenerated autologous NP cells are recognized by macrophages and NK cells, which may have an immunological function in the early phase of disc herniation. These findings contribute to understanding resorption and the inflammatory reaction to disc herniation.

Article download: Pages 13-21 (PDF file)
DOI: 10.22203/eCM.v019a02