• Dynamic;
  • Hydrostatic pressure;
  • Intervertebral disc;
  • Cells;
  • Rabbit


The pathogenesis of vibration-induced disorders of intervertebral disc at the cellular level is largely unknown. The objective of this study was to establish a method to investigate the ranges of constructive and destructive hydrostatic loading frequencies and amplitudes in preventing or inducing extracellular disc matrix degradation. Using a hydraulic chamber, normal rabbit intervertebral disc cells were tested under dynamic hydrostatic loading. Monolayer cultures of disc outer annulus cells and 3-dimensional (3-D) alginate cultures of disc nucleus pulposus cells were tested. Effects of different loading amplitudes (3-D culture, 0–3 MPa; monolayer, 0–1.7 MPa) and frequencies (1–20 Hz) on disc collagen and protein metabolism were investigated by measuring 3H-proline-labeled proteins associated with the cells in the extracellular matrix and release of 3H-proline-labeled molecules into culture medium. High frequency and high amplitude hydrostatic stress stimulated collagen synthesis in cultures of outer annulus cells whereas the lower amplitude and frequency hydrostatic stress had little effect. For the same loading duration and repetition, neither treatment significantly affected the relative amount of protein released from the cell layers, indicating that protein degradation and stability were unaffected. In the 3-D nucleus culture, higher amplitude and frequency increased synthesis rate and lowered degradation. In this case, loading amplitude had a stronger influence on cell response than that of loading frequency. Considering the ranges of loading amplitude and frequency used in this study, short-term application of high loading amplitudes and frequencies was beneficial in stimulation of protein synthesis and reduction of protein degradation. © 2003 Orthopaedic Research Society. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.