July 1, 2010
An immune cell known to cause chronic inflammation in autoimmune disorders has been identified as a possible culprit in low back pain associated with herniated discs, according to doctors at Duke University Medical Center.
The finding implicates the cytokine molecule interleukin-17, and supports the burgeoning theory that an immune response plays a significant role in disc disease, says William J. Richardson, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Duke. It may also open the door for new, therapeutic approaches that target a specific immune response in hopes of halting disc destruction, and possibly reversing the disease process.
“By identifying the specific subpopulation of lymphocytes (immune cells that are excited into action by the cytokine), it may soon be possible to arrest the body’s inflammatory response to disc cells,” says Richardson, senior author of the research published online this week in the July issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism. Doing so could reduce the painful inflammation associated with degenerative disc disease, and halt the evolution of arthritis. It may also reduce the need for back surgery…more