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Jung Jae Park, Hong Joo Moon, Jin Hyun Park, Taek Hyun Kwon, Youn-Kwan Park and Joo Han Kim

OBJECT

To determine the role played by mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling in the interactions between macrophages and intervertebral disc (IVD) cells, it was hypothesized that MAPK inhibition would modulate the production of the proinflammatory cytokines associated with inflammatory reaction in IVD cells.

METHODS

Human annulus fibrosus (AF) and nucleus pulposus (NP) cells were cocultured with phorbol myristate acetate-stimulated macrophage-like THP-1 cells, with and without SB202190 (a p38-α and -β inhibitor), SP600125 (a c-Jun N-terminal kinase [JNK] inhibitor), and PD98059 (an extracellular signal-regulated kinase [ERK] 1/2 inhibitor). The cytokines in conditioned media from cocultured and macrophage-exposed (nemotic) cells were assayed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs).

RESULTS

Interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-8 were secreted in greater quantities by the cocultured cells compared with naive IVD cells and macrophages (MΦ) cultured alone. The tumor necrosis factor (TNF)- α and IL-6 levels produced by the NP cells cocultured with MΦs (NP-MΦ) were significantly lower than those produced by AF cells cocultured with MΦs (AF-MΦ). SB202190 dose-dependently suppressed IL-6 secretion by AF-MΦ and NP-MΦ cocultures, and 10 μM SB202190 significantly decreased IL-6 and IL-8 production in nemotic AF and NP pellets. SP600125 at 10 μM significantly suppressed the production of TNF α IL-6. and IL-8 in AF-MΦ and NP-MΦ cocultures and significantly suppressed IL-1β production in the NP-MΦ coculture. Administration of 10 μM PD98059 significantly decreased IL-6 levels in the AF-MΦ coculture, and decreased the levels of TNF α and IL-8 in both the AF-MΦ and NP-MΦ cocultures.

CONCLUSIONS

The present study shows that inhibitors of p38 MAPK effectively controlled IL-6 production during inflammatory reactions and that JNK and ERK1/2 inhibitors successfully suppressed the production of major proinflammatory cytokines during interactions between macrophages and IVD cells. Therefore, selective blockade of these signals may serve as a therapeutic approach to symptomatic IVD degeneration.

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Bum-Joon Kim, Junseok W. Hur, Jong Soo Park, Joo Han Kim, Taek-Hyun Kwon, Youn-Kwan Park and Hong Joo Moon

OBJECT

An in vitro study was performed to understand the potential roles of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and MMP-9 in the elastin degradation of human ligamentum flavum (LF) cells via treatment with tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) and interleukin-1β (IL-1β). Previous studies have identified a decreased elastin to collagen ratio in hypertrophic LF. Among the extracellular matrix remodeling endopeptidases, MMP-2 and MMP-9 are known to have elastolytic activity. The hypothesis that activated LF cells exposed to inflammation would secrete MMP-2 and MMP-9, thereby resulting in elastin degradation, was examined.

METHODS

To examine MMP-2 and MMP-9 expression in human LF, cells were isolated and cultured from LF tissues that were obtained during lumbar disc surgery. Isolated LF cells were equally divided into 3 flasks and subcultured. Upon cellular confluency, the LF cells were treated with TNFα, IL-1β, or none (as a control) and incubated for 48 hours. The conditioned media were collected and assayed for MMP-2 and MMP-9 using gelatin zymography and Western blot analysis. The electrophoresis bands were compared on densitometric scans using ImageJ software.

RESULTS

The conditioned media from the isolated human LF cells naturally expressed 72-kD and 92-kD gelatinolytic activities on gelatin zymography. The IL-1β-treated LF cells presented sustained increases in the proenzyme/zymogen forms of MMP−2 and −9 (proMMP-2 and proMMP-9), and activeMMP-9 expression (p = 0.001, 0.022, and 0.036, respectively); the TNFα-treated LF cells showed the most elevated proMMP9 secretion (p = 0.006), as determined by Western blot analyses. ActiveMMP-2 expression was not observed on zymography or the Western blot analysis.

CONCLUSIONS

TNFα and IL-1β promote proMMP-2 and proMMP-9 secretion. IL-1β appears to activate proMMP-9 in human LF cells. Based on these findings, selective MMP-9 blockers or antiinflammatory drugs could be potential treatment options for LF hypertrophy.

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Hong Joo Moon, Bong-Kyung Shin, Joo Han Kim, Jong-Hyun Kim, Taek-Hyun Kwon, Hung-Seob Chung and Youn-Kwan Park

Intramedullary teratomas, particularly adult cervicothoracic lesions, are extremely rare. Up to now only 6 cases of intramedullary cervical teratomas have been reported in adults, and all of these were histologically mature. The authors present the case of a 35-year-old man with progressive myelopathic symptoms who was admitted through an outpatient clinic and was surgically treated. The characteristics, diagnosis, epidemiology, and treatment of cervical intramedullary teratomas in adults are also reviewed. Postoperative MR imaging showed that the tumor had been near totally removed, and severely adherent tissue remained ventrocranially with tiny focal enhancement on follow-up MR imaging. Pathological examinations revealed immature teratoma without any malignant component. Adjuvant therapy was not performed. Although no change in neurological findings and symptoms was apparent postoperatively, lesion regrowth was demonstrated on MR imaging 4 months after surgery. At 8 months postoperatively, myelopathic symptoms had developed and a huge intramedullary tumor recurred according to MR imaging. This case is the seventh reported instance of intramedullary cervical teratoma in an adult, and the first case report of the immature type with malignant features.