Low back pain is associated with degeneration of the intervertebral disc, but specific mechanisms of pain generation in this pathology remain unknown. Sensory afferent nerve fiber growth into the intervertebral disc after injury-induced inflammation may contribute to discogenic pain. We describe a clinically relevant behavioral phenotype in a rodent model of chronic intervertebral disc degeneration which provides a means to map sensory neuron changes to a single affected lumbar intervertebral disc. Unilateral disc puncture of one lumbar intervertebral disc revealed a bilateral behavioral phenotype characterized by gait changes and decreased activity. Moreover, neurons extracted from the dorsal root ganglia in animals with intervertebral disc injury demonstrated altered TRPV1 activation in vitro independent of exogenous NGF administration. Finally, neuronal nuclear hypertrophy and elevated expression of p75NTR provide evidence of active adaptation of innervating sensory neurons in chronic intervertebral disc degeneration. Therefore, this model and findings provide the template for future studies to establish specific mechanisms of nociceptive pain in chronic intervertebral disc degeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3759
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


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