Difference in energy metabolism of annulus fibrosus and nucleus pulposus cells of the intervertebral disc

Jessica Czamanski Salvatierra, Tai Yi Yuan, Hanan Fernando, Andre Castillo, Wei Yong Gu, Herman S. Cheung, C. Y. Charles Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Low back pain is associated with intervertebral disc degeneration. One of the main signs of degeneration is the inability to maintain extracellular matrix integrity. Extracellular matrix synthesis is closely related to production of adenosine triphosphate (i.e. energy) of the cells. The intervertebral disc is composed of two major anatomical regions: annulus fibrosus and nucleus pulposus, which are structurally and compositionally different, indicating that their cellular metabolisms may also be distinct. The objective of this study was to investigate energy metabolism of annulus fibrosus and nucleus pulposus cells with and without dynamic compression, and examine differences between the two cell types. Porcine annulus and nucleus tissues were harvested and enzymatically digested. Cells were isolated and embedded into agarose constructs. Dynamically loaded samples were subjected to a sinusoidal displacement at 2 Hz and 15% strain for 4 h. Energy metabolism of cells was analyzed by measuring adenosine triphosphate content and release, glucose consumption, and lactate/nitric oxide production. A comparison of those measurements between annulus and nucleus cells was conducted. Annulus and nucleus cells exhibited different metabolic pathways. Nucleus cells had higher adenosine triphosphate content with and without dynamic loading, while annulus cells had higher lactate production and glucose consumption. Compression increased adenosine triphosphate release from both cell types and increased energy production of annulus cells. Dynamic loading affected energy metabolism of intervertebral disc cells, with the effect being greater in annulus cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)302-310
Number of pages9
JournalCellular and Molecular Bioengineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Adenosine triphosphate
  • Annulus fibrosus
  • Dynamic loading
  • Energy metabolism
  • Intervertebral disc
  • Nucleus pulposus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Modeling and Simulation


Dive into the research topics of 'Difference in energy metabolism of annulus fibrosus and nucleus pulposus cells of the intervertebral disc'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this