Effect of intervertebral disc degeneration on mechanical and electric signals at the interface between disc and vertebra

Qiaoqiao Zhu, Xin Gao, Sihan Chen, Weiyong Gu, Mark D. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration is significantly correlated with the changes in structure and material properties of adjacent vertebral bone, possibly through mechanical and electrical interactions. However, the mechanisms underlying the alteration of the mechanical and electrical environment at the disc-vertebra interface related with disc degeneration have not been well studied. The objective of this study was to numerically investigate the long-term distributions of mechanical and electrical signals on the disc-vertebra interface with disc degeneration. A three-dimensional finite element model of a human lumbar IVD was used to study the mechanical and electric signals at the interface between disc and vertebral body. The disc degeneration was simulated by reducing the nutrition levels on the nucleus pulposus (NP)-vertebra interface and on the annulus fibrosus (AF) periphery to 30% and 60% of its normal values, respectively. In the simulation, the total external mechanical load applied to the disc-vertebra segment was assumed unchanged during disc degeneration. The simulation results showed that the compressive stress of solid matrix changed by up to ~37 kPa on the NP-vertebra interface, while it increased by up to ~32 kPa on the AF-vertebra interface. The shear stress increased by up to ~37 kPa with disc degeneration. The absolute value of the electric potential on the disc-vertebra interface of the disc slightly decreased with the disc degeneration (~0.5 mV). The knowledge of these spatial and temporal variations of the mechanical stresses and electric potential on the disc-vertebra interface is important for understanding the vertebrae adaptation and remodeling during disc degeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109756
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Biomechanics
  • Disc-vertebra interface
  • Electric potential
  • Finite element analysis
  • Intervertebral disc degeneration
  • Mechanical signals
  • Modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation

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