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Aching Back? Cholesterol Medication Might Help
Date:2/22/2009

o optimize the properties of the regenerative tissues. They hoped to maximize the expression of collagen II and minimize the expression of collagen I, two proteins involved in facilitating bone formation.

They reported the following results:

  • After 72 hours, researchers found that the number of nucleus pulposus cells had increased.
  • Lovastatin increased the synthesis of collagen II, a protein that makes up moveable joints, and decreased the synthesis of collagen I, a protein that is related to fibrosis (the formation or development of excess fibrous connective tissue).
  • Lovastatin had no cytotoxicity (the quality of being toxic) on nucleus pulposus cells.

"Regeneration of the nucleus pulposus tissue in the early stage of intervertebral disc degeneration can theoretically retard or even reverse the degenerative process and possibly regain a healthy intervertebral disc," says Dr. Yang. "Further studies are needed to determine the potentials of statins for regeneration and repair of degenerative disc disorders."

In a related study, Dr. Yang and his fellow researchers looked at how the patient's age affected the suitability of nucleus pulposus tissue for regeneration.

Researchers removed tissue from two groups -- adolescent patients (who were undergoing surgery for scoliosis) and adult patients (who were undergoing surgery for herniated discs) -- to find out how to manipulate the cells in the healthiest way. The researchers found that the tissue of younger patients was generally more suitable for regeneration than tissue from older patients.

These two studies represent just two of the latest advances in tissue engineering. Spine surgeons at one German institute are already using cells from the discs of human patients for autologous cell transplantation (reimplanting cells back into the same individual t
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SOURCE Orthopaedic Research Society
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