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Effect of Cartilage Endplate on Cell Based Disc Regeneration: A Finite Element Analysis

Yongren Wu, Sarah Cisewski, Barton L. Sachs, Hai Yao∗,†,‡

Department of Bioengineering, Clemson University, Clemson, SC
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), Charleston, SC
Corresponding author. Department of Bioengineering, Clemson University, Clemson-MUSC Bioengineering Program, 173 Ashley Avenue, P.O. Box 250508, Charleston, SC 29425. Phone: (843)876-2380, Fax: (843)792-6626, E-mail:

Molecular & Cellular Biomechanics 2013, 10(2), 159-182.


This study examines the effects of cartilage endplate (CEP) calcification and the injection of intervertebral disc (IVD) cells on the nutrition distributions inside the human IVD under physiological loading conditions using multiphasic finite element modeling. The human disc was modeled as an inhomogeneous mixture consisting of a charged elastic solid, water, ions (Na+ and Cl), and nutrient solute(oxygen,glucose and lactate) phases. The effect of the endplate calcification was simulated by a reduction of the tissue porosity (i.e., water volume faction) from 0.60 to 0.48. The effect of cell injection was simulated by increasing the cell density in the nucleus pulposus (NP) region by 50%, 100%, and 150%. Strain-dependent transport properties(e.g., hydraulic permeability and solute diffusivities) were considered to couple the solute transport and the mechanical loading. The simulation results showed that nutrient solute distribution inside the discis maintained at a stable state during the day and night. The physiological diurnal cyclic loading does not change the nutrient environment in the human IVD. The cartilage endplate plays a significant role in the nutrient supply to human IVD. Calcification of the cartilage endplate significantly reduces the nutrient levels in human IVD. Therefore, in cell based therapy for IVD regeneration, theincreased nutrient demand as a result of cell injection needs to be addressed. Excessive numbers of injected cells may cause further deterioration of the nutrient environment in the degenerated disc. This study is important for understanding the pathology of IVD degeneration and providing new insights into cell based therapies for low back pain.


Cite This Article

Wu, Y., Cisewski, S., Sachs, B. L., Yao, H. (2013). Effect of Cartilage Endplate on Cell Based Disc Regeneration: A Finite Element Analysis. Molecular & Cellular Biomechanics, 10(2), 159–182.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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