Inflammatory mediators and signalling pathways controlling intervertebral disc degeneration

Stefania Elena Navone, Giovanni Marfia, Amedeo Giannoni, Matteo Beretta, Laura Guarnaccia, Roberta Gualtierotti, Daniele Nicoli, Paolo Rampini, Rolando Campanella

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration (IDD) is one of the major causes of back pain, a condition that represents a serious socio-economic burden. Deeper knowledge of the complex and fine relationship between IVD degeneration, tissue inflammation and pain, appears to be critical to improve the current therapies, which have so far proven themselves ineffective. Upon degeneration, IVD tissues become inflamed, and this inflammatory microenvironment is associated with a cascade of degenerative events that may eventually cause discogenic pain. In particular, several studies have highlighted the major role of a number of proinflammatory mediators not only in the onset of the inflammatory condition, but also in the development of IDD in general. In this review, we will present the main pathological events that occur during disc degeneration, focusing on the relationship between the abnormal inflammatory milieu of the degenerating IVD, IDD and the generation of pain. Finally, we will present the current therapies for the treatment of IDD and low back pain, and the perspectives of future, more effective therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-542
Number of pages20
JournalHistology and Histopathology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Inflammatory mediators
  • Intervertebral disc degeneration
  • Low back pain
  • Neuroinflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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