Study Design.: An in vitro study with degenerated human lumbar intervertebral disc specimens cultured under hyperbaric oxygenation (HBO). Objective.: To observe the changes in interleukin (IL)-1β, prostaglandin (PG)-E2, nitric oxide (NO), cell growth, and apoptosis of the human nucleus pulposus cell (NPC) after HBO. Summary of Background Data.: Intervertebral disc degeneration has been demonstrated as related to IL-1β, PG-E2, NO, and O2 concentration but the actual mechanism is not clear. HBO also has also been reported in the literature to influence changes in IL-1β, prostaglandin E2, NO, and O2 concentration. However, the direct effect of HBO on the disc cells has not been previously reported. Methods.: We collected 12 human lumbar degenerated disc specimens and evaluated the effects of HBO on the cultured NPCs. The amounts of IL-1β, PG-E2, and NO in the conditioned medium were quantified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and high performance liquid chromatography. Cell growth was measured by increase in cell number. Cell viability and proteoglycan content were evaluated by histologic study using safranin O staining. In situ analysis of apoptosis was performed using Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining. Results.: Our data indicated that HBO treatment inhibited IL-1β, PG-E2, and NO production but increased cell number and matrix synthesis of cultured NPCs. TUNEL staining showed that HBO treatment suppressed the apoptosis of cultured NPCs. Conclusion.: HBO provides a potential treatment modality for disc degeneration.
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