The in vivo biological effects of intradiscal recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein-2 on the injured intervertebral disc: an animal experiment.

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2007 May 15;32(11):1174-80
Authors: Huang KY, Yan JJ, Hsieh CC, Chang MS, Lin RM

STUDY DESIGN: Prospective analysis. OBJECTIVE: To investigate biologic influences of recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein (rhBMP)-2 on intervertebral discs after anular tears.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Treatments for intervertebral disc injury or degeneration are unsatisfactory. rhBMP-2, a high-potency osteoinductive and chondroinductive substance, is approved for use in anterior lumbar interbody fusions. rhBMP-2 stimulates the proliferation of rat disc cells and the secretion of extracellular matrix in vitro. In vivo responses in the intervertebral disc after anular tears are rarely studied.

METHODS: Twenty New Zealand white rabbits received full-thickness anular tears and intradiscal injections of saline (control) and rhBMP-2 0.1 mg with and without coral grafts at L2-L3, L3-L4, and L4-L5, respectively. Three died or had infection. Therefore, 17 underwent radiography and sacrifice at 12 weeks. Spinal sections were stained with hematoxylin and eosin to examine responses to rhBMP-2.

RESULTS: Radiographs revealed degenerative changes, such as disc space narrowing and irregularity, subchondral sclerosis, osteophyte formation, and hypertrophy of vertebral endplates in all groups. Degeneration was more frequent and severe with rhBMP-2 with (P < 0.01) and without (P < 0.05) coral than with saline. Two rabbits receiving rhBMP-2 and coral achieved solid interbody bony fusion. New bone formation was noted in 2 controls, in 3 animals treated with rhBMP-2, and in 4 treated with rhBMP-2 and coral. Vascularity and fibroblast proliferation increased with rhBMP-2 (n = 14) and rhBMP-2 with coral (n = 9) compared with control (n = 3; P < 0.01 and P = 0.03, respectively). Inflammatory infiltrates increased with rhBMP-2 (n = 8) compared with control (n = 2; P = 0.03).

CONCLUSIONS: Degenerative changes were more frequent and severe in the groups treated with rhBMP-2 with or without coral in radiographic findings. In histopathologic findings, rhBMP-2 promoted hypervascularity and fibroblast proliferation of the intervertebral disc after an anular tear.

PMID: 17495773 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]