Cytomorphology of notochordal and chondrocytic cells from the nucleus pulposus: a species comparison

Authors

  • Christopher J. Hunter,

    1. McCaig Centre for Joint Injury and Arthritis Research,
    2. Department of Civil Engineering,
    3. Department of Cell Biology & Anatomy, and
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  • John R. Matyas,

    1. McCaig Centre for Joint Injury and Arthritis Research,
    2. Department of Cell Biology & Anatomy, and
    3. Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, University of Calgary, Canada
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  • Neil A. Duncan

    Corresponding author
    1. McCaig Centre for Joint Injury and Arthritis Research,
    2. Department of Civil Engineering,
    3. Department of Surgery,
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Dr N.A. Duncan, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4. E: duncan@ucalgary.ca

Abstract

The nuclei pulposi of the intervertebral discs (IVDs) contain a mixed population of cell types at various stages of maturation. This tissue is formed either by or with the help of cells from the embryonic notochord, which appear to be replaced during development by a population of chondrocyte-like cells of uncertain origin. However, this transition occurs at widely varying times, depending upon the species – or even breed – of the animal being examined. There is considerable debate among spine researchers as to whether the presence of these residual notochordal cells has a significant impact upon IVD degeneration models, and thus which models may best represent the human condition. The present study examines several different species commonly used in lumbar spine investigations to explore the variability of notochordal cells in the IVD.

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