Spinal fusion surgery is a common treatment modality for various pathologic conditions of the spine. The bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2) analogue L51P acts as a general inhibitor of BMP antagonists, whereas it shows a weak affinity for BMP type I receptor. It is suggested that L51P applied in bone disorders might prevent side effects of highly concentrated BMP dosage applications in the order of milligrams. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of L51P and BMP2 on intervertebral disc cells (IVDCs), i.e. on nucleus pulposus cells, on annulus fibrosus cells (AFCs), and on cartilaginous endplate cells (CEPCs), respectively, in 3-dimensional (3D) culture.
Low-passage primary IVDCs were cultured in 3D alginate bead culture and exposed to 100-ng/mL BMP2 and/or L51P for 21 days. Here, we analyzed glycosaminoglycan (GAG) and DNA content and further performed gene expression analysis for major matrix genes.
AFCs and cartilaginous CEPCs stimulated with each 100-ng/mL L51P and BMP2, showed a significant upregulation in GAG (AFCs: p = 0.00347 and CEPCs: p = 0.0115) and DNA production (AFCs: p = 0.0182 and CEPCs: p = 0.0179) compared to control.
These results allow first insights into the behavior of IVDCs upon L51P stimulation.