The intervertebral disc (IVD) is the largest cartilaginous structure in human body that contributes to flexibility and load support in the spine. To accomplish these functions, the disc has a unique architecture consisting of a centrally-located nucleus pulposus (NP) surrounded superiorly and inferiorly by cartilage endplates (CEP) and peripherally by the annulus fibrosus (AF). Disc degeneration is strongly linked to low back pain. Poor nutrient supply has been suggested as a potential mechanism for disc degeneration. Previous theoretical studies have shown that the distributions of nutrients and metabolites (e.g., oxygen, glucose, and lactate) within the IVD depended on tissue diffusivities, nutrient supply, and cellular metabolic rates [1, 2]. Based on a multiphasic mechano-electrochemical finite element model of human IVD [3], our recent theoretical study suggested that the mechanical loading has little effect on small solute transport (e.g., glucose), but significantly affects large solute transport (e.g., growth factor). The objective of this study was to further develop the multiphasic finite element model of IVD by including the cartilage endplate and considering the nutrient consumption of disc cells. Using this model, the effects of endplate and mechanical loading on solute transport in IVD were examined.

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