European Spine Journal

, Volume 16, Issue 12, pp 2193–2205 | Cite as

Biglycan and fibromodulin fragmentation correlates with temporal and spatial annular remodelling in experimentally injured ovine intervertebral discs

  • James MelroseEmail author
  • Susan M. Smith
  • Emily S. Fuller
  • Allan A. Young
  • Peter J. Roughley
  • Andrew Dart
  • Christopher B. Little
Original Article


This study evaluated spatial and temporal extracellular matrix changes, induced by controlled surgical defects in the outer third of the annulus fibrosus (AF) of ovine intervertebral discs (IVDs). Thirty-two 4 year old sheep received a 4 mm deep × 10 mm wide standard annular surgical incision in the L1L2 and L3L4 IVDs (lesion group), 32 sheep were also subjected to the same surgical approach but the AF was not incised (sham-operated controls). Remodeling of the IVD matrix in the lesion and sham discs was assessed histochemically at 3, 6,12 and 26 month post operation (PO). Discs were also dissected into annular lesion site and contra-lateral AF and NP and equivalent zones in the sham sheep group, extracted with GuHCl, dialysed, freeze dried, digested with chondroitinase ABC/keratanase-I and aliquots examined for small leucine repeat proteoglycan (SLRP) core protein species by Western blotting using C-terminal antibodies to decorin, biglycan, lumican and fibromodulin and monoclonal antibody (Mab) 2B6 to unsaturated stub epitopes on chondroitin-4-sulphate generated by chondroitinase ABC. Masson Trichrome and Picrosirius red staining demonstrated re-organisation of the outermost collagenous lamellae in the incised discs 3–6 month PO. Toluidine blue staining also demonstrated a focal loss of anionic proteoglycan (PG) from the annular lesion 3–6 month PO with partial recovery of PG levels by 26 month. Specific fragments of biglycan and fibromodulin were associated with remodeling of the AF 12–26 month PO in the lesion IVDs but were absent from the NP of the lesion discs or all tissue zones in the sham animal group. Fragments of decorin were also observed in lesion zone extracts from 3 to 6 months but diminished after this. Isolation and characterization of the biglycan/fibromodulin fragments may identify them as prospective biomarkers of annular remodeling and characterization of the enzyme systems responsible for their generation may identify therapeutic target molecules.


IVD Annular remodelling Experimental disc degeneration SLRP fragmentation 



Funding for this project was provided by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (Project grants 211266 and 352562) whose support is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Melrose
    • 1
    Email author
  • Susan M. Smith
    • 1
  • Emily S. Fuller
    • 1
  • Allan A. Young
    • 1
  • Peter J. Roughley
    • 2
  • Andrew Dart
    • 1
    • 3
  • Christopher B. Little
    • 1
  1. 1.Raymond Purves Laboratory, Institute of Bone and Joint Research, Kolling Institute of Medical ResearchUniversity of Sydney at Royal North Shore HospitalSt. LeonardsAustralia
  2. 2.Shriners Hospital for Children, Genetics UnitMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Department of Veterinary ScienceUniversity of SydneyCamdenAustralia

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