Niek Djuric, Shanmuganathan Rajasekaran, Chitra Tangavel, Muthurajan Raveendran, Dilip Chand Raja Soundararajan, Sharon Miracle Nayagam, Monica Steffi Matchado, K. S. Sri Vijay Anand, Ajoy Prasad Shetty, Rishi Mugesh Kanna

February 2022, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 389 - 399 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-021-06989-9

First Online: 05 October 2021

Influence of endplate avulsion and Modic changes on the inflammation profile of herniated discs: a proteomic and bioinformatic approach


The aim of this observational radiographic and proteomic study is to explore the influence of both Modic change (MC) and endplate avulsion (EPA) on the inflammation profile of herniated discs using a proteomic and bioinformatics approach.


Fifteen nucleus pulposus (NP) harvested from surgery underwent LC-MS/MC analysis, the proteome was subsequently scanned for inflammatory pathways using a bioinformatics approach. All proteins that were identified in inflammatory pathways and Gene Ontology and present in > 7 samples were integrated in a multiple regression analysis with MC and EPA as predictors. Significant proteins were imputed in an interaction and pathway analysis.


Compared to annulus fibrosus tear (AFT), six proteins were significantly altered in EPA: catalase, Fibrinogen beta chain, protein disulfide-isomerase, pigment epithelium-derived factor, osteoprotegerin and lower expression of antithrombin-III, all of which corresponded to an upregulation of pathways involved in coagulation and detoxification of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Moreover, the presence of MC resulted in a significant alteration of nine proteins compared to patients without MC. Patients with MC showed a significantly higher expression of clusterin and lumican, and lower expression of catalase, complement factor B, Fibrinogen beta chain, protein disulfide-isomerase, periostin, Alpha-1-antitrypsin and pigment epithelium-derived factor. Together these altered protein expressions resulted in a downregulation of pathways involved in detoxification of ROS, complement system and immune system. Results were verified by Immunohistochemistry with CD68 cell counts.


Both EPA and MC status significantly influence disc inflammation. The beneficial inflammatory signature of EPA illustrates that endplate pathology does not necessarily have to worsen the outcome, but the pathological inflammatory state is dependent on the presence of MC.

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