Immunohistologic analysis was performed on surgically removed samples of herniated nucleus pulposus to examine the expression of stromelysin-1. We performed in vitro
and in vivo
experiments to determine whether recombinant human (rh) stromelysin-1 is capable of degrading nucleus pulposus.
To analyze the production of stromelysin-1 in various types of herniated nucleus pulposus, and to examine the effects of this recombinant protein on nucleus pulposus tissues.
Summary of Background Data.
The authors previously demonstrated a progressive decrease in herniated nucleus pulposus size in some of the transligamentous and sequestration types of herniated nucleus pulposus using magnetic resonance imaging. An increased production of stromelysin-1, a cartilage proteoglycan degrading enzyme, in herniated nucleus pulposus was reported recently. The authors speculated that if stromelysin-1 is involved in the degradation of herniated nucleus pulposus, stromelysin-1 itself may be used as a chemonucleolytic agent.
Immunohistologic analysis using streptoavidin-biotin method was performed on 20 herniated nucleus pulposus samples to investigate the expression of stromelysin-1. Five herniated nucleus pulposus samples were incubated in a tissue culture medium in the presence or absence of rh stromelysin-1. After 24 hours of incubation, their weight changes were measured, and the loss of proteoglycan was assessed by Safranin O staining. Rat nucleus pulposus tissues were obtained from coccygeal intervertebral discs, and autologous subcutaneous transplantation was performed. Rh stromelysin-1 was injected into the grafted materials, and the reduction in size was followed by two-dimensional measurements from the skin surface, using engineer's calipers.
Immunohistologic analysis demonstrated the production of stromelysin-1 in the granulation tissues of herniated nucleus pulposus. When stromelysin-1 was injected into the murine nucleus pulposus tissues, they reduced in size more rapidly than the control group. In addition, human herniated nucleus pulposus materials obtained at surgery showed significant weight loss when treated with stromelysin-1 in an organ culture system. Safranin O staining revealed extensive depletion of proteoglycan in these herniated nucleus pulposus samples.
Stromelysin-1 is a possible key enzyme in herniated nucleus pulposus resorption, and stromelysin-1 may be a good candidate for use in chemonucleolysis. Administration of human stromelysin-1 may physiologically facilitate the resorption process of herniated nucleus pulposus, increase the healing rate, and decrease complications after chemonucleolysis.