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Krock E.,Orthopeadic Research Laboratory | Krock E.,Alan Edwards Center for Research on Pain | Krock E.,McGill Scoliosis and Spine Research Group | Currie J.B.,Orthopeadic Research Laboratory | And 12 more authors.
Journal of Biological Chemistry | Year: 2016

Nerve growth factor (NGF) contributes to the development of chronic pain associated with degenerative connective tissue pathologies, such as intervertebral disc degeneration and osteoarthritis. However, surprisingly little is known about the regulation of NGF in these conditions. Toll-like receptors (TLR) are pattern recognition receptors classically associated with innate immunity but more recently were found to be activated by endogenous alarmins such as fragmented extracellular matrix proteins found in degenerating discs or cartilage. In this study we investigated if TLR activation regulates NGF and which signaling mechanisms control this response in intervertebral discs. TLR2 agonists, TLR4 agonists, or IL-1β (control) treatment increased NGF, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and IL-1β gene expression in human disc cells isolated from healthy, pain-free organ donors. However, only TLR2 activation or IL-1β treatment increased NGF protein secretion. TLR2 activation increased p38, ERK1/2, and p65 activity and increased p65 translocation to the cell nucleus. JNK activity was not affected by TLR2 activation. Inhibition of NF-κB, and to a lesser extent p38, but not ERK1/2 activity, blocked TLR2-driven NGF up-regulation at both the transcript and protein levels. These results provide a novel mechanism of NGF regulation in the intervertebral disc and potentially other pathogenic connective tissues. TLR2 and NF-κB signaling are known to increase cytokines and proteases, which accelerate matrix degradation. Therefore, TLR2 or NF-κB inhibition may both attenuate chronic pain and slow the degenerative progress in vivo. Source


Alkhatib B.,McGill University | Rosenzweig D.H.,McGill University | Krock E.,McGill University | Roughley P.J.,Shriners Hospital for Children | And 6 more authors.
European Cells and Materials | Year: 2014

Excessive mechanical loading or acute trauma to intervertebral discs (IVDs) is thought to contribute to degeneration and pain. However, the exact mechanisms by which mechanical injury initiates and promotes degeneration remain unclear. This study investigates biochemical changes and extracellular matrix disruption in whole-organ human IVD cultures following acute mechanical injury. Isolated healthy human IVDs were rapidly compressed by 5 % (non-injured) or 30 % (injured) of disc height. 30 % strain consistently cracked cartilage endplates, confirming disc trauma. Three days post-loading, conditioned media were assessed for proteoglycan content and released cytokines. Tissue extracts were assessed for proteoglycan content and for aggrecan integrity. Conditioned media were applied to PC12 cells to evaluate if factors inducing neurite growth were released. Compared to controls, IVD injury caused significant cell death. Injury also caused significantly reduced tissue proteoglycan content with a reciprocal increase of proteoglycan content in culture media. Increased aggrecan fragmentation was observed in injured tissue due to increased matrix metalloproteinase and aggrecanase activity. Injured- IVD conditioned media contained significantly elevated interleukin (IL)-5, IL-6, IL-7, IL-8, MCP-2, GROα, and MIG, and ELISA analysis showed significantly increased nerve growth factor levels compared to non-injured media. Injured-disc media caused significant neurite sprouting in PC12 cells compared to non-injured media. Acute mechanical injury of human IVDs ex vivo initiates release of factors and enzyme activity associated with degeneration and back pain. This work provides direct evidence linking acute trauma, inflammatory factors, neo-innervation and potential degeneration and discogenic pain in vivo. © 2014 AO Research Institute. All rights reserved. Source


Rosenzweig D.H.,McGill University | Rosenzweig D.H.,McGill Scoliosis and Spine Research Group | Gawri R.,McGill University | Moir J.,McGill University | And 8 more authors.
European Cells and Materials | Year: 2016

Low back pain originating from intervertebral disc (IVD) degenerationaffectsthequalityoflifeformillionsof people, and it is a major contributor to global healthcare costs. Long-term culture of intact IVDs is necessary to develop ex vivomodels of human IVD degeneration and repair, where the relationship between mechanobiology, disc matrix composition and metabolism can be better understood. Abioreactor wasdevelopedthat facilitates culture of intact human IVDs in a controlled, dynamically loaded environment. Tissue integrity and cell viability was evaluated under 3 different loading conditions: low 0.1-0.3, medium 0.1-0.6 and high 0.1-1.2 MPa. Cell viability was maintained > 80 % throughout the disc at low and medium loads, whereas it dropped to approximately 70 % (NP) and 50 % (AF) under high loads. Although cell viability was affected at high loads, there was no evidence of sGAG loss, changes in newly synthesised collagen type II or chondroadherin fragmentation. Sulphated GAG content remained at a stable level of approximately 50 µg sGAG/mg tissue in all loading protocols. To evaluate the feasibility oftissuerepairstrategieswithcellsupplementation, human NP cells were transplanted into discs within a thermoreversible hyaluronan hydrogel. The discs were loaded under medium loads, and the injected cells remained largely localised to the NP region. This study demonstrates the feasibility of culturing human IVDs for 14 days under cyclic dynamic loading conditions. The system allows the determination a safe range-of-loading and presents a platform to evaluate cell therapies and help to elucidate the effect of load following cell-based therapies. © 2016 AO Research Institute. All Right reserved. Source


Krock E.,McGill University | Krock E.,McGill Scoliosis and Spine Research Group | Rosenzweig D.H.,McGill University | Rosenzweig D.H.,McGill Scoliosis and Spine Research Group | And 11 more authors.
Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine | Year: 2014

Intervertebral disc degeneration (IVD) can result in chronic low back pain, a common cause of morbidity and disability. Inflammation has been associated with IVD degeneration, however the relationship between inflammatory factors and chronic low back pain remains unclear. Furthermore, increased levels of nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) are both associated with inflammation and chronic low back pain, but whether degenerating discs release sufficient concentrations of factors that induce nociceptor plasticity remains unclear. Degenerating IVDs from low back pain patients and healthy, painless IVDs from human organ donors were cultured ex vivo. Inflammatory and nociceptive factors released by IVDs into culture media were quantified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and protein arrays. The ability of factors released to induce neurite growth and nociceptive neuropeptide production was investigated. Degenerating discs release increased levels of tumour necrosis factor-α, interleukin-1β, NGF and BDNF. Factors released by degenerating IVDs increased neurite growth and calcitonin gene-related peptide expression, both of which were blocked by anti-NGF treatment. Furthermore, protein arrays found increased levels of 20 inflammatory factors, many of which have nociceptive effects. Our results demonstrate that degenerating and painful human IVDs release increased levels of NGF, inflammatory and nociceptive factors ex vivo that induce neuronal plasticity and may actively diffuse to induce neo-innervation and pain in vivo. © 2014 The Authors. Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and Foundation for Cellular and Molecular Medicine. Source

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