Daniela A. Frauchiger, Samantha C. W. Chan, Lorin M. Benneker, Benjamin Gantenbein

August 2018, Volume 27, Issue 8, pp 1785 - 1797 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-018-5638-5

First Online: 22 May 2018


Comparison of two annulus fibrosus injury models that mimic intervertebral disc (IVD) herniation, enabling the study of IVD behaviour under three loading regimes in a bovine organ culture model.


An injury was induced by custom-designed cross-incision tool or a 2-mm biopsy punch in IVDs. Discs were cultured for 14 days under (1) complex (compression and torsion), (2) static, and (3) no load. Disc height, mitochondrial activity, DNA and glycosaminoglycan (GAG) contents, and disc stiffness under complex load were determined. Further, gene expression and histology analysis were performed.


While both injury models did not change the compressional stiffness of IVDs, cross-incision decreased disc height under complex load. Moreover, under complex load, the biopsy punch injury induced down-regulation of several anabolic, catabol ic, and inflammatory genes, whereas cross-incision did not significantly differ from control discs. However, DNA and GAG contents were in the range of the healthy control discs for both injury models but did show lower contents under no load and static load. Injury side and contralateral side of the IVD showed a similar behaviour on the biochemical assays tested.


Compressional stiffness, GAG and DNA contents, did not differ between injury models under complex load. This behaviour was partially attributed to the positive influence of complex loading on matrix regeneration and cell viability. However, disc height was reduced for the cross-incision. Relative gene expression changes of the inflammatory and anabolic genes for the biopsy punch approach might indicate that induced damage was too intense to trigger any inflammatory or repair response.

Graphical abstract

These slides can be retrieved under Electronic Supplementary Material.[Figure not available: see fulltext.]

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