Intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration with chronic low back pain is associated with neo-vascularisation into the deeper IVD regions. During this process, endothelial cells (ECs), which are primarily responsible for angiogenesis, interact with the adjacent annulus fibrosus (AF) cells, which are the first line of defence against the invasion of vascular structures into deeper IVD regions. However, the accumulation of inflammatory and catabolic enzymes that results from this interaction promotes matrix degradation and an inflammatory response. Thus, regulating the production of these mediators and catabolic enzymes could ameliorate IVD degeneration. Photobiomodulation (PBM) therapy is a non-invasive stimulation known to have biologically beneficial effects on wound healing, tissue repair, and inflammation. Here, we examined the effects of PBM, administered at various wavelengths (645, 525, and 465 nm) and doses (16, 32, and 64 J/cm2), on EC-stimulated human AF cells. Our results show that PBM selectively inhibited the EC-mediated production of inflammatory mediators, catabolic enzymes, and neurotrophins by human AF cells in a dose- and wavelength-dependent manner. These results suggest that PBM could be a superior and advanced treatment strategy for IVD degeneration.
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