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Back pain commonly arises from intervertebral disc (IVD) damage including annulus fibrosus (AF) defects and nucleus pulposus (NP) loss. Poor IVD healing motivates developing tissue engineering repair strategies. This study evaluated a composite injectable IVD biomaterial repair strategy using carboxymethylcellulose-methylcellulose (CMC-MC) and genipincrosslinked fibrin (FibGen) that mimic NP and AF properties, respectively. Bovine ex vivo caudal IVDs were evaluated in cyclic compression-tension, torsion, and compression-to-failure tests to determine IVD biomechanical properties, height loss, and herniation risk following experimentally-induced severe herniation injury and discectomy (4 mm biopsy defect with 20% NP removed). FibGen with and without CMC-MC had failure strength similar to discectomy injury suggesting no increased risk compared to surgical procedures, yet no biomaterials improved axial or torsional biomechanical properties suggesting they were incapable of adequately restoring AF tension. FibGen had the largest failure strength and was further evaluated in additional discectomy injury models with varying AF defect types (2 mm biopsy, 4 mm cruciate, 4 mm biopsy) and NP removal volume (0%, 20%). All simulated discectomy defects significantly compromised failure strength and biomechanical properties. The 0% NP removal group had mean values of axial biomechanical properties closer to intact levels than defects with 20% NP removed but they were not statistically different and 0% NP removal also decreased failure strength. FibGen with and without CMC-MC failed at super-physiological stress levels above simulated discectomy suggesting repair with these tissue engineered biomaterials may perform better than discectomy alone, although restored biomechanical function may require additional healing with the potential application of these biomaterials as sealants and cell/drug delivery carriers.


This article was originally published in PLOS One, available at DOI: 10. 6084/m9.figshare.7579877.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0).



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