Energy metabolism of intervertebral disc under mechanical loading

Chong Wang, Silvia Gonzales, Howard Levene, Weiyong Gu, Chun Yuh Charles Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration is closely associated with low back pain (LBP), which is a major health concern in the U.S. Cellular biosynthesis of extracellular matrix (ECM), which is important for maintaining tissue integrity and preventing tissue degeneration, is an energy demanding process. Due to impaired nutrient support in avascular IVD, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) supply could be a limiting factor for maintaining normal ECM synthesis. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate the energy metabolism in the annulus fibrosus (AF) and nucleus pulposus (NP) of porcine IVD under static and dynamic compressions. Under compression, pH decreased and the contents of lactate and ATP increased significantly in both AF and NP regions, suggesting that compression can promote ATP production via glycolysis and reduce pH by increasing lactate accumulation. A high level of extracellular ATP content was detected in the NP region and regulated by compressive loading. Since ATP can serve not only as an intra-cellular energy currency, but also as a regulator of a variety of cellular activities extracellularly through the purinergic signaling pathway, our findings suggest that compression-mediated ATP metabolism could be a novel mechanobiological pathway for regulating IVD metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1733-1738
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • ATP
  • energy metabolism
  • IVD
  • lactate
  • mechanical loading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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