Narrowed intervertebral disc (IVD) space is a characteristic of IVD degeneration. EP sclerosis is associated with IVD, however the pathogenesis of EP hypertrophy is poorly understood. Here, we employed two spine instability mouse models to investigate temporal and spatial EP changes associated with IVD volume, considering them as a functional unit. We found that aberrant mechanical loading leads to accelerated ossification and hypertrophy of EP, decreased IVD volume and increased activation of TGFβ. Overexpression of active TGFβ in CED mice showed a similar phenotype of spine instability model. Administration of TGFβ Receptor I inhibitor attenuates pathologic changes of EP and prevents IVD narrowing. The aberrant activation of TGFβ resulting in EPs hypertrophy-induced IVD space narrowing provides a pharmacologic target that could have therapeutic potential to delay DDD.
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