In the intervertebral discs, stem cells have been found. In the degenerated intervertebral cartilage discs of humans and laboratory animals, stem cells have been found. This should help millions of people around the world who suffer from back pain, according to the authors of the discovery – researchers from the Jefferson Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Dystrophy and degenerative processes in the cartilaginous intervertebral discs of the spine lead to the development of severe conditions, which result in pain in the back and neck.
Normally, these discs contain a large amount of water acting as a shock absorber and associated with proteins – glycosaminoglycans. Once the stem cells lose the ability to produce glycosaminoglycans, the disc loses water, becomes thinner, and can not act as a spring. The project manager, Makarand Risbud, suggested investigating the properties of the stem cells remaining in such degenerated discs. It turned out that the cells isolated had the ability, under various conditions, to differentiate into cells of fatty, bone and cartilaginous tissues, and, most importantly, to produce glycosaminoglycans. Researchers note that similar abilities have already been demonstrated for bone marrow stem cells.