Intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration can lead to severe and chronic low back pain, which represents the leading cause of disability worldwide. IVD degeneration can be characterized by the dehydration of the central nucleus pulposus (NP) and subsequent structural breakdown of the peripheral annulus fibrosus (AF). Currently, there are no clinically acceptable solutions for sealing the ruptured AF, so biologic based therapies, such as tissue engineering, are being investigated. The current state of AF tissue engineering may be advanced with a strategy that captures the essential building blocks of AF tissue morphogenesis: Biomimetic cell patterning, mechanical forces to induce circumferential cell elongation, and an extracellular matrix (ECM)-based molecular cocktail that supports tissue assembly.
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Chen J-X, Li Y-H, Wen J, Li Z, Yu B-S, Huang Y-C. Annular defects impair the mechanical stability of the intervertebral disc. Global Spine J. 2021;epub Mar 30. https://doi.org/10.1177/21925682211006061