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Nutrient Transport in Human Annulus Fibrosus is Affected by Compressive Strain and Anisotropy

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Abstract

The avascular intervertebral disc (IVD) receives nutrition via transport from surrounding vasculature; poor nutrition is believed to be a main cause of disc degeneration. In this study, we investigated the effects of mechanical deformation and anisotropy on the transport of two important nutrients—oxygen and glucose—in human annulus fibrosus (AF). The diffusivities of oxygen and glucose were measured under three levels of uniaxial confined compression—0, 10, and 20%—and in three directions—axial, circumferential, and radial. The glucose partition coefficient was also measured at three compression levels. Results for glucose and oxygen diffusivity in AF ranged from 4.46 × 10−7 to 9.77 × 10−6 cm2/s and were comparable to previous studies; the glucose partition coefficient ranged from 0.71 to 0.82 and was also similar to previous results. Transport properties were found to decrease with increasing deformation, likely caused by fluid exudation during tissue compression and reduction in pore size. Furthermore, diffusivity in the radial direction was lower than in the axial or circumferential directions, indicating that nutrient transport in human AF is anisotropic. This behavior is likely a consequence of the layered structure and unique collagen architecture of AF tissue. These findings are important for better understanding nutritional supply in IVD and related disc degeneration.

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported by grants from NIH (AR050609, AR056101 and EB008653) and an NRSA Fellowship from NIH NIA (AG030921). The authors wish to thank Mr. Andre Castillo, BSBE, for his help in apparatus development.

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Correspondence to Wei Yong Gu.

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Associate Editor Daniel Elson oversaw the review of this article.

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Jackson, A.R., Yuan, TY., Huang, CY. et al. Nutrient Transport in Human Annulus Fibrosus is Affected by Compressive Strain and Anisotropy. Ann Biomed Eng 40, 2551–2558 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10439-012-0606-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10439-012-0606-4

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