The tissue-renin-angiotensin-system of the human intervertebral disc

Eur Cell Mater. 2020 Oct 2;40:115-132. doi: 10.22203/eCM.v040a07.


Symptomatic intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration accounts for significant socioeconomic burden. Recently, the expression of the tissue renin-angiotensin system (tRAS) in rat and bovine IVD was demonstrated. The major effector of tRAS is angiotensin II (AngII), which participates in proinflammatory pathways. The present study investigated the expression of tRAS in human IVDs, and the correlation between tRAS, inflammation and IVD degeneration. Human IVD tissue was collected during spine surgery and distributed according to principal diagnosis. Gene expression of tRAS components, proinflammatory and catabolic markers in the IVD tissue was assessed. Hydroxyproline (OHP) and glycosaminoglycan (GAG) content in the IVD tissue were determined. Tissue distribution of tRAS components was investigated by immunohistochemistry. Gene expression of tRAS components such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), Ang II receptor type 2 (AGTR2), angiotensinogen (AGT) and cathepsin D (CTSD) was confirmed in human IVDs. IVD samples that expressed tRAS components (n = 21) revealed significantly higher expression levels of interleukin 6 (IL-6), tumour necrosis factor α (TNF-α), a disintegrin and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin motifs (ADAMTS) 4 and 5 compared to tRAS-negative samples (n = 37). Within tRAS-positive samples, AGT, matrix-metalloproteinases 13 and 3, IL-1, IL-6 and IL-8 were more highly expressed in traumatic compared to degenerated IVDs. Total GAG/DNA content of non-tRAS expressing IVD tissue was significantly higher compared to tRAS positive tissue. Immunohistochemistry confirmed the presence of AngII in the human IVD. The present study identified the existence of tRAS in the human IVD and suggested a correlation between tRAS expression, inflammation and ultimately IVD degeneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Angiotensin II / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc / metabolism*
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration / genetics
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Renin-Angiotensin System* / genetics
  • Young Adult


  • Angiotensin II