APOE-knockout in rabbits causes loss of cells in nucleus pulposus and enhances the levels of inflammatory catabolic cytokines damaging the intervertebral disc matrix

Autoři: Anja Beierfuß aff001;  Monika Hunjadi aff002;  Andreas Ritsch aff002;  Christian Kremser aff003;  Claudius Thomé aff004;  Demissew Shenegelegn Mern aff004
Působiště autorů: Laboratory Animal Facility, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria aff001;  Department of Internal Medicine I, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria aff002;  Department of Radiology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria aff003;  Department of Neurosurgery, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria aff004
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(11)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225527


Rabbits with naturally high levels of cholesterol ester transfer protein (CETP), unlike rodents, have become an interesting animal model for the study of lipid metabolism and atherosclerosis, as they have similarities to humans in lipid metabolism, cardiovascular physiology and susceptibility to develop atherosclerosis. Rodents, such as mice, are not prone to atherosclerosis as they lack the mass and activity of CETP, as a key player in lipoprotein metabolism. Recently, APOE-knockout in rabbits has been shown to promote atherosclerosis and associated premature IVD degeneration that mimic the symptoms of atherosclerosis and structural changes of IVDs in humans. Here we examined whether APOE-knockout promoted IVD degeneration in rabbits is associated with imbalanced inflammatory catabolic activities, as the underlying problem of biological deterioration that mimic the symptoms of advanced IVD degeneration in humans. We analysed in lumbar nucleus pulposus (NP) of APOE-knockout rabbits the cell viabilities and the intracellular levels of inflammatory, catabolic, anti-catabolic and anabolic proteins derogating IVD matrix. Grades of IVD degeneration were evaluated by magnetic resonance imaging. NP cells were isolated from homozygous APOE-knockout and wild-type New Zealand White rabbits of similar age. Three-dimensional cell culture with low-glucose was completed in alginate hydrogel. Cell proliferation and intracellular levels of target proteins were examined by MTT and ELISA assays. Alike human NP cells of different disc degeneration grades, NP cells of APOE-knockout and wild-type rabbits showed significantly different in vivo cell population densities (p<0.0001) and similar in vitro proliferation rates. Furthermore, they showed differences in overexpression of selective inflammatory and catabolic proteins (p<0.0001) similar to those found in human NP cells of different disc degeneration grades, such as IL-1β, TNF-α, ADAMTS-4, ADAMTS-5 and MMP-3. This study showed that premature IVD degeneration in APOE-knockout rabbits was promoted by the accumulation of selective inflammatory catabolic factors that enhanced imbalances between catabolic and anabolic factors mimicking the symptoms of advanced IVD degeneration in humans. Thus, APOE-knockout rabbits could be used as a promising model for therapeutic approaches of degenerative disc disorders.

Klíčová slova:

Collagens – Cytokines – Inflammation – Magnetic resonance imaging – Nutrients – Rabbits – Cell signaling structures


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2019 Číslo 11