Inhibitory Effects of Human Primary Intervertebral Disc Cells on Human Primary Osteoblasts in a Co-Culture System.

May, Rahel Deborah; Frauchiger, Daniela Angelika; Albers, Christoph; Benneker, Lorin Michael; Kohl, Sandro; Gantenbein, Benjamin (2018). Inhibitory Effects of Human Primary Intervertebral Disc Cells on Human Primary Osteoblasts in a Co-Culture System. International journal of molecular sciences, 19(4) Molecular Diversity Preservation International MDPI 10.3390/ijms19041195

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Spinal fusion is a common surgical procedure to address a range of spinal pathologies, like damaged or degenerated discs. After the removal of the intervertebral disc (IVD), a structural spacer is positioned followed by internal fixation, and fusion of the degenerated segment by natural bone growth. Due to their osteoinductive properties, bone morphogenetic proteins (BMP) are applied to promote spinal fusion. Although spinal fusion is successful in most patients, the rates of non-unions after lumbar spine fusion range from 5% to 35%. Clinical observations and recent studies indicate, that the incomplete removal of disc tissue might lead to failure of spinal fusion. Yet, it is still unknown if a secretion of BMP antagonists in intervertebral disc (IVD) cells could be the reason of inhibition in bone formation. In this study, we co-cultured human primary osteoblasts (OB) and IVD cells i.e., nucleus pulposus (NPC), annulus fibrosus (AFC) and cartilaginous endplate cells (CEPC), to test the possible inhibitory effect from IVD cells on OB. Although we could see a trend in lower matrix mineralization in OB co-cultured with IVD cells, results of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity and gene expression of major bone genes were inconclusive. However, in NPC, AFC and CEPC beads, an up-regulation of several BMP antagonist genes could be detected. Despite being able to show several indicators for an inhibition of osteoinductive effects due to IVD cells, the reasons for pseudarthrosis after spinal fusion remain unclear.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Orthopaedic, Plastic and Hand Surgery (DOPH) > Clinic of Orthopaedic Surgery
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute for Surgical Technology & Biomechanics ISTB [discontinued]

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

May, Rahel Deborah, Frauchiger, Daniela Angelika, Albers, Christoph E., Benneker, Lorin Michael, Kohl, Sandro, Gantenbein, Benjamin


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Molecular Diversity Preservation International MDPI




Benjamin Gantenbein

Date Deposited:

26 Apr 2018 11:01

Last Modified:

01 Aug 2023 05:53

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

BMP antagonists co-culture human primary intervertebral disc cells human primary osteoblasts spinal fusion




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