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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.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: PloS one
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Fibrocartilage inner core of the intervertebral disc. Prolapsed or bulged nucleus pulposus leads to INTERVERTEBRAL DISC DISPLACEMENT while proliferation of cells in the nucleus pulposus is associated with INTERVERTEBRAL DISC DEGENERATION.
Strains of mice that contain genetic disruptions (knockout) of APOLIPOPROTEINS E genes. They are used as models for ATHEROSCLEROSIS research.
The species Oryctolagus cuniculus, in the family Leporidae, order LAGOMORPHA. Rabbits are born in burrows, furless, and with eyes and ears closed. In contrast with HARES, rabbits have 22 chromosome pairs.
Outer portion of the intervertebral disc that surrounds the NUCLEUS PULPOSUS.
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