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Spine J. 2013 Apr 19. pii: S1529-9430(13)00316-1. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2013.03.021. [Epub ahead of print]

Influence of intradiscal medication on nucleus pulposus cells.


Orthopädisches Spital Speising, 3. Orthopädische Abteilung, Speisinger Str. 109, 1130 Wien, Austria. Electronic address: claudia.eder@oss.at.



Eugene Carragee was the first to prove that provocative discography may contribute to intervertebral disc degeneration. Disc degeneration can be induced either by mechanical trauma caused by the puncturing needle or as a pharmacological effect of the drugs instilled into the disc.


The aim of this study was to test the influence of cortisone, lidocaine, and iopamidol on nucleus pulposus cells under an in vitro setting.


Controlled in vitro study is the design type.


The nucleus pulposus was excised from 12 bovine tail intervertebral discs and monolayer cell cultures were generated. The cultures were divided into four sample groups and incubated in either standard cell culture medium (control group) or medium supplemented with the test substances. The dose rate was adapted based on a total dose of 3 mL iopamidol, 1 mL lidocaine, and 10 mg cortisone per nucleus pulposus. Cell count, viability, proliferation, and differentiation features were analyzed. The study was supported by DePuy. No conflicts of interest arise from this support.


After 24 hours, a significant decrease in cell counts was observed in all three test groups. Population doubling time was 16 hours in the control group cultured in standard medium and increased to 21 hours (cortisone), 25 hours (iopamidol), and 38 hours (lidocaine) after incubation in discography medication (p<.001). Cell viability was slightly, but not significantly decreased in all medication groups. Cells incubated in Lidocaine were significantly smaller (p<.01) and showed clearly reduced pseudopodia formation. Incubation in lidocaine and iopamidol also significantly reduced glycosaminoglycan synthesis.


Although only a small decrease in cell viability was observed in all three substances tested, cell count and proliferation decreased significantly. Incubation in lidocaine inhibited pseudopodia formation and might therefore interfere with intercellular signalling and cell migration. Glycosaminoglycan synthesis was significantly decreased after contact with lidocaine as well as Iopamidol. These observations suggest that all three medications tested might interfere with biological repair mechanisms of the intervertebral disc and therefore contribute to a further degeneration.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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