Anisotropic diffusive transport in annulus fibrosus: Experimental determination of the diffusion tensor by FRAP technique

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26 Scopus citations


The annulus fibrosus (AF) of the intervertebral disc (IVD) exhibits a fiber-organized structure which is responsible for anisotropic and inhomogeneous mechanical and transport properties. Due to its particular morphology, nutrient transport within AF is regulated by complex transport kinetics. This work investigates the diffusive transport of a small solute in the posterior and anterior regions of AF since diffusion is the major transport mechanism for low molecular weight nutrients (e.g., oxygen and glucose) in IVD. Diffusion coefficient (D) of fluorescein (332 Da) in bovine coccygeal AF was measured in the three major (axial, circumferential, and radial) directions of the IVD by means of fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) technique. It was found that the diffusion coefficient was anisotropic and inhomogeneous. In both anterior and posterior regions, the diffusion coefficient in the radial direction was found to be the lowest. Circumferential and axial diffusion coefficients were not significantly different in both posterior and anterior regions and their values were about 130% and 150% the value of the radial diffusion coefficient, respectively. The values of diffusion coefficients in the anterior region were in general higher than those of corresponding diffusion coefficients in the posterior region. This study represents the first quantitative analysis of anisotropic diffusion transport in AF by means of FRAP technique and provides additional knowledge on understanding the pathways of nutritional supply into IVD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1739-1748
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of biomedical engineering
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • Confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM)
  • Intervertebral disc (IVD)
  • Nutritional pathways
  • Spatial Fourier analysis (SFA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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