Engineered Human Intervertebral Disc Model Inducing Degenerative Microglial Proinflammation

Min Ho Hwang, You Jung Kang, Hyeong Guk Son, Hansang Cho, Hyuk Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Degeneration of the intervertebral disc (IVD) is a major contributor to low back pain (LBP). IVD degeneration is characterized by abnormal production of inflammatory cytokines secreted by IVD cells. Although the underlying molecular mechanisms of LBP have not been elucidated, increasing evidence suggests that LBP is associated particularly with microglia in IVD tissues and the peridiscal space, aggravating the cascade of degenerative events. In this study, we implemented our microfluidic chemotaxis platform to investigate microglial inflammation in response to our reconstituted degenerative IVD models. The IVD models were constructed by stimulating human nucleus pulposus (NP) cells with interleukin-1β and producing interleukin-6 (129.93 folds), interleukin-8 (18.31 folds), C-C motif chemokine ligand-2 (CCL-2) (6.12 folds), and CCL-5 (5.68 folds). We measured microglial chemotaxis (p < 0.05) toward the conditioned media of the IVD models. In addition, we observed considerable activation of neurodegenerative and deactivation of protective microglia via upregulated expression of CD11b (p < 0.001) and down-regulation of CD206 protein (p < 0.001) by soluble factors from IVD models. This, in turn, enhances the inflammatory milieu in IVD tissues, causing matrix degradation and cellular damage. Our findings indicate that degenerative IVD may induce degenerative microglial proinflammation, leading to LBP development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12216
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Oct

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (2019R1A6A3A01091920, 2020R1F1A1068910, 2022R1I1A1A01054001, 2022R1I1A1A01063094, 2020R1A2C2010285) and by the National Research Foundation (I21SS7606036).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors.


  • chemotaxis
  • human nucleus pulposus
  • intervertebral disc degeneration
  • microglia
  • proinflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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