Intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration typically involves changes in the multiple constitutive tissues of the IVD. Many tissue repair efforts have focused on the use of differentiated disc cells or stem cells for the regeneration of an IVD in vitro. Consequently, successful long term culture of human disc cells is pivotal for tissue regeneration of the IVD. The aim of this study is to establish a long-term in vitro culture system for the growth of disc cells that maintain their phenotype based on the anatomical origin (annulus fibrosus (AF), nucleus pulposus (NP), or the vertebral end-plates (EP)). This maintenance of phenotype is crucial for examination of treatment efficacy, which is typically designed to induce regeneration of a single tissue type (i.e. injection of growth factors into the NP or anti-inflammatory treatment of the EPs).

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