Age-related changes in expression of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-3 associated with transition from the notochordal nucleus pulposus to the fibrocartilaginous nucleus pulposus in rabbit intervertebral disc

Takashi Tsuji, Kazuhiro Chiba, Hideaki Imabayashi, Yoshinari Fujita, Naobumi Hosogane, Yasunori Okada, Yoshiaki Toyama

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STUDY DESIGN. Experimental study on age-related changes in expression of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-3 (TIMP-3) associated with transition from notochordal nucleus pulposus (NP) to fibrocartilaginous NP in rabbit intervertebral disc (IVD). OBJECTIVES. To identify roles of notochordal NP in extracellular matrix (ECM) metabolism of IVD. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA. One of most interesting properties of TIMP-3 is to inhibit aggrecanases in addition to matrix metalloproteinases. Balance of aggrecanase/TIMP-3 is critical to maintain homeostasis of ECM metabolism. METHODS. Four-week-old and 160-week-old male Japanese white rabbits were used. Age-related changes in IVDs were evaluated histologically using previously established grading system. Immunohistochemistry of TIMP-3 and semiquantitative reverse transcriptase- polymerase reaction (RT-PCR) of TIMP-3, a disintegrin and metalloproteinases with thrombospondin motifs (ADAMTS) 4, 5, and transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), were conducted. RESULTS. Semiquantitative assessment of histologic changes indicated that 4-week-old rabbit was equivalent to fetus to 2-year-old human and 160-week-old rabbit was equivalent to 11- to 30-year-old human, particularly 11- to 16-year-old, which corresponds to transition period from notochordal to fibrocartilaginous NP. Immunohistochemistry revealed that TIMP-3 was positive in 4-week-old rabbit only. Semiquantitative RT-PCR revealed that levels of expressions of TGF-β1 and TIMP-3 mRNAs in 4-week-old were significantly higher than those in 160-week-old rabbits. There was no significant difference in expression of ADAMTS4 mRNA. ADAMTS5 mRNA was not detected or extremely low in both groups. Expression of TIMP-3 mRNA in NP was upregulated by TGF-β1 but was not affected by IL-1β. On the contrary, expression of ADAMTS4 mRNA was not upregulated by TGF-β1 but was upregulated by IL-1β. CONCLUSIONS. Levels of expression of TIMP-3 in notochordal NP were significantly lower in 160-week-old rabbits than those in 4-week-old rabbits. Decrease in expression of TIMP-3, possibly mediated in part by TGF-β1, may cause imbalance of ADAMTS4/TIMP-3 ratio at transition period from notochordal to fibrocartilaginous NP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)849-856
Number of pages8
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 01-04-2007
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology

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