Shuangjun He, Xinfeng Zhou, Guotao Yang, Zhangzhe Zhou, Yijian Zhang, Xiaofeng Shao, Ting Liang, Nanning Lv, Jianhong Chen, Zhonglai Qian

July 2022, pp 1 - 15 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-022-07284-x

First Online: 16 July 2022


The completeness of the intervertebral disc proteome is fundamental to the integrity and functionality of the intervertebral disc.


The 20 experimental rats were placed into two groups randomly, normal group (NG) and acupuncture pathological degeneration group-2 weeks (APDG-2w). The ten 24-month-old rats were grouped into physiological degeneration group (PDG). Magnetic resonance imaging, X-ray examination, histological staining (hematoxylin & eosin, safranin-O cartilage, and alcian blue staining), and immunohistochemical examination were carried out for assessing the degree of disc degradation. Intervertebral disc was collected, and protein composition was determined by LC- MS, followed by bioinformatic analysis including significance analysis, subcellular localization prediction, protein domain prediction, GO function and KEGG pathway analysis, and protein interaction network construction. LC-PRM was done for protein quantification.


Physiological degeneration and especially needle puncture decreased T2 signal intensity and intervertebral disc height. Results from hematoxylin & eosin, safranin-O, and alcian blue staining revealed that the annulus fibrosus apparently showed the wavy and collapsed fibrocartilage lamellas in APDG-2w and PDG groups. The contents of the nucleus pulposus were decreased in physiological degeneration group and APDG-2w group compared with NG. Results from immunohistochemical analysis suggested the degeneration of intervertebral disc and inflammation in APDG-2w and PDG groups. The protein composition and expression between needle puncture rat models and the physiological degeneration group showed significant difference.


Our studies produced point-reference datasets of normal rats, physiological degeneration rats, and needle puncture rat models, which is beneficial to subsequent pathological studies. There is differential expression of protein expression in degenerative discs with aging and acupuncture, which may be used as a potential discriminating index for different intervertebral degenerations.

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