The aging mouse partially models the aging human spine: Lumbar and coccygeal disc height, composition, mechanical properties, and Wnt signaling in young and old mice

Nilsson Holguin, Rhiannon Aguilar, Robin A. Harland, Bradley A. Bomar, Matthew J. Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Murine lumbar and coccygeal (tail) regions of spines are commonly used to study cellular signaling of age-related disc diseases, but the tissuelevel changes of aging intervertebral discs and vertebrae of each spinal region remain unclear. Furthermore, the impact of aging lumbar and coccygeal discs on Wnt/β-catenin signaling, which is putatively involved in the catabolism of intervertebral discs, is also unclear. We compared disc/vertebrae morphology and mechanics and biochemical composition of intervertebral discs from lumbar and coccygeal regions between young (4-5 mo) and old (20-22 mo) female C57BL/6 mice. Center intervertebral disc height from both regions was greater in old discs than young discs. Compared with young, old lumbar discs had a lower early viscous coefficient (a measure of stiffness) by 40%, while conversely old coccygeal discs were stiffer by 53%. Biochemically, old mice had double the collagen content in lumbar and coccygeal discs of young discs, greater glycosaminoglycan in lumbar discs by 37%, but less glycosaminoglycan in coccygeal discs by 32%. Next, we compared Wnt activity of lumbar and coccygeal discs of 4- to 5-mo and 12- to 14-mo TOPGAL mice. Despite the disc-specific changes, aging decreased Wnt signaling in the nucleus pulposus from both spinal regions by ≥64%. Compared with young, trabecular bone volume/tissue volume and ultimate force were less in old lumbar vertebrae, but greater in old coccygeal vertebrae. Thus intervertebral discs and vertebrae age in a spinal region-dependent manner, but these differential age-related changes may be uncoupled from Wnt signaling. Overall, lumbar and coccygeal regions are not interchangeable in modeling human aging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1551-1560
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Volume116
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 15 2014

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Caudal
  • Mouse
  • Tail
  • WNT/β-catenin

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