An immunohistochemical study of mechanoreceptors in lumbar spine intervertebral discs


      There are limited data concerning mechanoreceptors in normal human lumbar intervertebral discs. The aim of our study was to determine the types of mechanoreceptors in the two lower intervertebral discs in normal adult cadaveric donors and to review the literature. Twenty-five lumbar (L4–5 and L5–S1) intervertebral discs were retrieved from 15 fresh cadavers. We utilized immunoreactivity against the S-100 protein to localize specialized nerve endings. Immunoreactivity showed receptors in 92% of discs. The most frequent type had morphology resembling the Ruffini type receptor (88%), followed by the Golgi type. Free nerve fibers were frequently present. All neural structures were found in the superficial layers of the annulus fibrosus, in longitudinal ligaments, or between these two. The anterior part of the L5–S1 disc had a greater frequency of encapsulated receptors than the other parts (p = 0.022), which may be correlated with the high shear forces to which the lumbosacral junction is subjected.


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