Degeneration of the intervertebral disc (IVD) has been associated with low back pain, which is one of the major socio-economic problems in the United States. Since IVD is the largest avascular cartilaginous structure in the human body, poor nutrient supply has been suggested as a potential mechanism for IVD degeneration. Biosynthesis of extracellular matrix is an energy demanding process which is required to maintain tissue integrity [1]. Cells consume glucose and oxygen to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the main energy form in cells. Glycolysis, the primary metabolic pathway for production of ATP in IVD cells, is strongly regulated by local oxygen concentration and pH (which is governed by lactate concentration) [2]. Therefore, energy metabolism may play an important role in the malnutrition pathway leading to IVD degeneration. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of mechanical loading on cellular energy metabolism in whole disc and in agarose gels.

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