Changes in vascularity of cartilage endplate of degenerated intervertebral discs in response to melatonin administration in rats


NEUROSURGICAL REVIEW, vol.26, no.2, pp.133-138, 2003 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 26 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2003
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s10143-003-0259-8
  • Title of Journal : NEUROSURGICAL REVIEW
  • Page Numbers: pp.133-138


We carried out an experimental investigation of cartilage endplate vascularity of degenerated intervertebral discs produced by exogenous melatonin (MEL) treatment. Adult Swiss albino rats were divided into three groups: control, operated degeneration, and MEL treatment. There were five rats in each group and, using a posterior approach, cuts were made parallel to the endplates in the posterior annulus fibrosus in five consecutive intervertebral discs between the 5th and 10th vertebral segments of the rats' tails. At 8 weeks, five of these animals were treated with exogenous MEL (s.c. injection of 30 mug/100 g body weight daily for 4 weeks). In each experimental group, one animal was examined using CT scanner to study the density of the cartilage endplate of the disc. To evaluate the bone growth and vascularity of the cartilage endplate region, the animals were killed for subsequent histopathological evaluation. We found that the vascular channel counts and percentage areas from animals treated with MEL were significantly lower than from the operated degeneration animals. Accordingly, the density histogram in the MEL group showed a spike profile for both the vertebral body and the cartilage endplate, indicating an increase in the amount of higher density tissues in these regions. Our results demonstrate that the use of MEL reduces the cartilage endplate vascularity of degenerated intervertebral discs, suggesting that it may have an osteoinductive effect on bone formation. Further studies are needed to characterize fully the relevance of our findings for the treatment of disorders such as postmenopausal osteoporosis.