European Spine Journal

, Volume 17, Issue 9, pp 1131–1148 | Cite as

Recent advances in annular pathobiology provide insights into rim-lesion mediated intervertebral disc degeneration and potential new approaches to annular repair strategies

  • James MelroseEmail author
  • Susan M. Smith
  • Christopher B. Little
  • Robert J. Moore
  • Barrie Vernon-Roberts
  • Robert D. Fraser


The objective of this study was to assess the impact of a landmark annular lesion model on our understanding of the etiopathogenesis of IVD degeneration and to appraise current IVD repairative strategies. A number of studies have utilised the Osti sheep model since its development in 1990. The experimental questions posed at that time are covered in this review, as are significant recent advances in annular repair strategies. The ovine model has provided important spatial and temporal insights into the longitudinal development of annular lesions and how they impact on other discal and paradiscal components such as the NP, cartilaginous end plates, zygapophyseal joints and vertebral bone and blood vessels. Important recent advances have been made in biomatrix design for IVD repair and in the oriented and dynamic culture of annular fibrochondrocytes into planar, spatially relevant, annular type structures. The development of hyaluronan hydrogels capable of rapid in situ gelation offer the possibility of supplementation of matrices with cells and other biomimetics and represent a significant advance in biopolymer design. New generation biological glues and self-curing acrylic formulations which may be augmented with slow delivery biomimetics in microcarriers may also find application in the non-surgical repair of annular defects. Despite major advances, significant technical challenges still have to be overcome before the biological repair of this intractable connective tissue becomes a realistic alternative to conventional surgical intervention for the treatment of chronic degenerate IVDs.


Annular injury Annular remodelling/repair Intervertebral disc degeneration Intervertebral disc repair Rim lesions Perlecan 



This study was funded by NHMRC Project Grant 211266.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Melrose
    • 1
    Email author
  • Susan M. Smith
    • 1
  • Christopher B. Little
    • 1
  • Robert J. Moore
    • 2
  • Barrie Vernon-Roberts
    • 2
  • Robert D. Fraser
    • 2
  1. 1.Raymond Purves Research Laboratory, Institute of Bone & Joint Research, Kolling Institute of Medical ResearchUniversity of Sydney, Royal North Shore HospitalSt. LeonardsAustralia
  2. 2.The Adelaide Centre for Spinal ResearchInstitute of Medical and Veterinary Science, Hanson InstituteAdelaideAustralia

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