A Single Injection of NTG-101 Reduces the Expression of Pain-Related Neurotrophins in a Canine Model of Degenerative Disc Disease

Int J Mol Sci. 2022 May 20;23(10):5717. doi: 10.3390/ijms23105717.


Tissue sources of pain emanating from degenerative discs remains incompletely understood. Canine intervertebral discs (IVDs) were needle puncture injured, 4-weeks later injected with either phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) or NTG-101, harvested after an additional fourteen weeks and then histologically evaluated for the expression of NGFr, BDNF, TrkB and CALCRL proteins. Quantification was performed using the HALO automated cell-counting scoring platform. Immunohistochemical analysis was also performed on human IVD tissue samples obtained from spinal surgery. Immunohistochemical analysis and quantification of neurotrophins and neuropeptides was performed using an in vivo canine model of degenerative disc disease and human degenerative disc tissue sections. Discs injected with NTG-101 showed significantly lower levels of Nerve Growth Factor receptor (NGFr/TrkA, p = 0.0001), BDNF (p = 0.009), TrkB (p = 0.002) and CALCRL (p = 0.008) relative to PBS injections. Human IVD tissue obtained from spinal surgery due to painful DDD show robust expression of NGFr, BDNF, TrkB and CALCRL proteins. A single intradiscal injection of NTG-101 significantly inhibits the expression of NGFr, BDNF, TrkB and CALCRL proteins in degenerative canine IVDs. These results strongly suggest that NTG-101 inhibits the development of neurotrophins that are strongly associated with painful degenerative disc disease and may have profound effects upon the management of patients living with discogenic pain.

Keywords: BDNF; CALCRL; NGFr; TrkB; degenerative disc disease; pain.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / pharmacology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dogs
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration* / drug therapy
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration* / pathology
  • Intervertebral Disc* / pathology
  • Pain / drug therapy
  • Pain / pathology


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor

Grants and funding

This study was funded by Research Funds held by WME via the University of Toronto, Department of Surgery (University of Toronto Disc Biology Research Fund. Fund # 471822.