• Open Access

Toward an understanding of the role of notochordal cells in the adult intervertebral disc: From discord to accord

Authors

  • Makarand V. Risbud,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Graduate Program in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Jefferson Medical College, 1015 Walnut Street, Suite 501 Curtis Bldg. Philadelphia, PA 19107
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    • Drs.Risbud and Schaer contributed equally to the manuscript.

  • Thomas P. Schaer,

    1. Comparative Orthopedics Research Laboratory, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
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    • Drs.Risbud and Schaer contributed equally to the manuscript.

  • Irving M. Shapiro

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Graduate Program in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Jefferson Medical College, 1015 Walnut Street, Suite 501 Curtis Bldg. Philadelphia, PA 19107
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Abstract

The goal of this mini-review is to address the long standing argument that the pathogenesis of disc disease is due to the loss and/or the replacement of the notochordal cells by other cell types. We contend that, although cells of different size and morphology exist, there is no strong evidence to support the view that the nucleus pulposus contains cells of distinct lineages. Based on lineage mapping studies and studies of other notochordal markers, we hypothesize that in all animals, including human, nucleus pulposus retains notochordal cells throughout life. Moreover, all cells including chondrocyte-like cells are derived from notochordal precursors, and variations in morphology and size are representative of different stages of maturation, and or, function. Thus, the most critical choice for a suitable animal model should relate more to the anatomical and mechanical characteristics of the motion segment than concerns of cell loss and replacement by non-notochordal cells. Developmental Dynamics 239:2141–2148, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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