Static Compression Induces ECM Remodeling and Integrin α2β1 Expression and Signaling in a Rat Tail Caudal Intervertebral Disc Degeneration Model

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Study Design.

A three-level rat tail caudal intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration (IVDD) model was established to study effects of static compression on extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling and integrin signaling in IVDs during IVDD.


The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of compression force on ECM remodeling and integrin signaling in IVDs during IVDD.

Summary of Background Data.

Integrins sense mechanical environment alteration via binding to ECM ligands and trigger intracellular signaling for pathological ECM remodeling during IVDD. However, the role of compression force in ECM remodeling and integrin signaling during IVDD remains elusive.


Compared with the classical one-level rat tail IVDD model that exerts axial stress on the 8th to 9th caudal vertebral bodies, a three-level model was established by using an Ilizarov-type apparatus to exert stress on the 7th to 10th caudal vertebral bodies in rat tails for four weeks. To exclude side effects from surgical stab injury on manipulated discs, intact coccygeal (Co) disc Co8–9 was analyzed.


In three-level IVDD model, significant degeneration of the Co8–9 disc was observed. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) showed elevated mRNA expression of collagen types I, III, and V; matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) 2, 3, 9, 13, 14; and decreased mRNA expression of collagen type II in Co8–9 disc. Compression loading altered the expression of integrin α2β1 (upregulated) and α10β1 (downregulated) in NP cells, and activated integrin downstream signaling. By contrast, one-level model showed more severe disc degeneration and ECM remodeling. Integrin α1, α2, α11, and β1 were upregulated, whereas α10 was downregulated. Similar activation of integrin signaling was observed.


Static compression altered collagen and MMP expression, and promoted β1 integrin expression and signaling in IVD. Compared with one-level rat tail IVDD model, three-level model showed milder effects on disc degeneration, ECM remodeling, and integrin expression, suggesting one-level model might involve other causes that induce IVDD via mechanisms independent of compression force.


Level of Evidence: N/A

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