The Cellular Composition of Bovine Coccygeal Intervertebral Discs: A Comprehensive Single-Cell RNAseq Analysis

Calió, Martina; Gantenbein, Benjamin; Egli, Marcel; Poveda, Lucy; Ille, Fabian (2021). The Cellular Composition of Bovine Coccygeal Intervertebral Discs: A Comprehensive Single-Cell RNAseq Analysis. International journal of molecular sciences, 22(9), p. 4917. Molecular Diversity Preservation International MDPI 10.3390/ijms22094917

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Intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration and its medical consequences is still one of the leading causes of morbidity worldwide. To support potential regenerative treatments for degenerated IVDs, we sought to deconvolute the cell composition of the nucleus pulposus (NP) and the annulus fibrosus (AF) of bovine intervertebral discs. Bovine calf tails have been extensively used in intervertebral disc research as a readily available source of NP and AF material from healthy and young IVDs. We used single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq) coupled to bulk RNA sequencing (RNAseq) to unravel the cell populations in these two structures and analyze developmental changes across the rostrocaudal axis. By integrating the scRNAseq data with the bulk RNAseq data to stabilize the clustering results of our study, we identified 27 NP structure/tissue specific genes and 24 AF structure/tissue specific genes. From our scRNAseq results, we could deconvolute the heterogeneous cell populations in both the NP and the AF. In the NP, we detected a notochordal-like cell cluster and a progenitor stem cell cluster. In the AF, we detected a stem cell-like cluster, a cluster with a predominantly fibroblast-like phenotype and a potential endothelial progenitor cluster. Taken together, our results illustrate the cell phenotypic complexity of the AF and NP in the young bovine IVDs.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Orthopaedic, Plastic and Hand Surgery (DOPH) > Clinic of Orthopaedic Surgery

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Gantenbein, Benjamin


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




Molecular Diversity Preservation International MDPI




Benjamin Gantenbein

Date Deposited:

17 Sep 2021 15:46

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:53

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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