Objective: We constructed a passive cigarette-smoking model with rats to investigate the molecular mechanism of intervertebral disc degeneration, and foundby gene expression analysis that passive cigarette smoking stimulated the stress-responsive signal pathway and inhibited the apoptotic pathway. In this study, to clarify that these changes were derived from either nucleus pulposus (NP) or annulus fibrosus (AF), we separately collected NP and AF and quantitatively analyzed gene expression. Methods: Total RNA was extracted from NP and AF of the lumbar intervertebral discs from rats which were kept in a smoking box for 4 and 8 weeks. Gene expression was measured by real-time PCR of cDNA synthesized from the total RNA. Results: Stress-responsive protein, heat shock protein 70, was expressed similarly in NP and AF, and wasupregulated to the same degree after 8 weeks of passive cigarette smoking. The protein tyrosine phosphatase gene was expressed more strongly in AF than in NP, and wasupregulated after 8 weeks of smoking in both tissueparts. The type II collagen and aggrecan genes were predominantly expressed in AF and NP, respectively. Conclusion: These results indicate that passive cigarette smoking stimulates both NP and AF, and induces the stress-responsible genes such as heat shock protein 70 and protein tyrosine phosphatase in both.
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