In vivo fluid transport in human intervertebral discs varies by spinal level and disc region

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Background: The lumbar discs are large, dense tissues that are primarily avascular, and cells residing in the central region of the disc are up to 6–8 mm from the nearest blood vessel in adults. To maintain homeostasis, disc cells rely on nutrient transport between the discs and adjacent vertebrae. Thus, diminished transport has been proposed as a factor in age-related disc degeneration. Methods: In this study, we used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to quantify diurnal changes in T2 relaxation time, an MRI biomarker related to disc hydration, to generate 3D models of disc fluid distribution and determine how diurnal changes in fluid varied by spinal level. We recruited 10 participants (five males/five females; age: 21–30 years; BMI: 19.1–29.0 kg/m2) and evaluated the T2 relaxation time of each disc at 8:00 AM and 7:00 PM, as well as degeneration grade (Pfirrmann). We also measured disc height, volume, and perimeter in a subset of individuals as a preliminary comparison of geometry and transport properties. Results: We found that the baseline (AM) T2 relaxation time and the diurnal change in T2 relaxation time were greatest in the cranial lumbar discs, decreasing along the lumbar spine from cranial to caudal. In cranial discs, T2 relaxation times decreased in each disc region (nucleus pulposus [NP], inner annulus fibrosus [IAF], and outer annulus fibrosus [OAF]), whereas in caudal discs, T2 relaxation times decreased in the NP but increased in the AF. Conclusions: Fluid transport varied by spinal level, where transport was greatest in the most cranial lumbar discs and decreased from cranial to caudal along the lumbar spine. Future work should evaluate what level-dependent factors affect transport.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Martin, JT; Wesorick, B; Oldweiler, AB; Kosinski, AS; Goode, AP; DeFrate, LE

Published Date

  • January 1, 2022

Published In

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2572-1143

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/jsp2.1199

Citation Source

  • Scopus