Neurospine.  2020 Jun;17(2):426-442. 10.14245/ns.2040056.028.

Proteomic Signatures of Healthy Intervertebral Discs From Organ Donors: A Comparison With Previous Studies on Discs From Scoliosis, Animals, and Trauma

  • 1Department of Spine Surgery, Ganga Hospital, Coimbatore, India
  • 2Ganga Research Centre, Coimbatore, India
  • 3Department of Plant Biotechnology, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, India
  • 4Aravind Medical Research Foundation, Madurai, India


To catalog and characterize the proteome of normal human intervertebral disc (IVD).
Nine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) normal IVDs were harvested from 9 different brain dead yet alive voluntary organ donors and were subjected to electrospray ionization-liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (ESI-LC-MS/MS) acquisition.
A total of 1,116 proteins were identified. Functional enrichment analysis tool DAVID ver. 6.8 categorized: extracellular proteins (38%), intracellular (31%), protein-containing complex (13%), organelle (9%), membrane proteins (6%), supramolecular complex (2%), and 1% in the cell junction. Molecular function revealed: binding activity (42%), catalytic activity (31%), regulatory activity (14%), and structural activity (7%). Molecular transducer, transporter, and transcription regulator activity together contributed to 6%. A comparison of the proteins obtained from this study to others in the literature showed a wide variation in content with only 3% of bovine, 5% of murine, 54% of human scoliotic discs, and 10.2% of discs adjacent to lumbar burst fractures common to our study of organ donors. Between proteins reported in scoliosis and lumbar fracture patients, only 13.51% were common, further signifying the contrast amongst the various MRI normal IVD samples.
The proteome of “healthy” human IVDs has been defined, and our results show that proteomic data on IVDs obtained from scoliosis, fracture patients, and cadavers lack normal physiological conditions and should not be used as biological controls despite normal MRI findings. This questions the validity of previous studies that have used such discs as controls for analyzing the pathomechanisms of disc degeneration.


Tandem mass spectrometry; Human intervertebral disc; Proteome; Degenerative disc disease; Tissue donors; Gene ontology
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