The role of caveolin-1 in premature intervertebral disk degeneration in dogs
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Intervertebral disc degeneration is still poorly understood. This study explores the role of the protein caveolin in the process of degeneration. Histomorphometric measurements and several immunohistochemical stainings were performed focussing on the differences between the intervertebral discs of wild type mice and caveolin knock out mice. Although, there were no differences in the intervertebral discs histomorphometrical measurements regarding the nucleus pulposus, the annulus fibrosus and the height, there were distinct differences in the cell morphology and cell activity. During the degeneration the notochordal cells from the nucleus pulposus are replaced by chondroïd like cells. The cells of the intervertebral discs of the knock out mice showed less proliferation, less cell differentiation and more apoptotic cells. In the absence of caveolin-1 fewer cells showed signs of proliferation and more cells were apoptotic. This phenotype resembles that of chondrodystrophic dog breeds; in a follow up study the caveolin gene and protein should be studied in these dogs.