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The present numerical study aims to investigate the disc nutrition and factors affecting it by evaluating the concentrations of oxygen, glucose and lactic acid in the disc while accounting for the coupling between these species via the pH level in the tissue and the nonlinear concentration-consumption (for glucose and oxygen) and concentration-production (for lactate) relations. The effects of changes in the endplate exchange area (EA) adjacent to the nucleus or the inner annulus for the transport of nutrients and in the disc geometry as well as tissue diffusivities under static compression loading on species concentrations are also studied. Moreover, alterations in solute diffusion following a central endplate fracture are investigated. An axisymmetric geometry with four distinct regions is considered. Supply sources are assumed at the outer annulus periphery and disc endplates. Coupling between different solutes, pH level, endplate disruptions (calcifications and fractures) and mechanical loads substantially influenced the distribution of nutrients throughout the disc as well as the magnitude and location of critical concentrations; maximum for the lactic acid and minimum for oxygen and glucose. In cases with loss of endplate permeability and/or disruptions therein, as well as changes in geometry and fall in diffusivity associated with fluid expression, the nutrient concentrations could fall to levels inadequate to maintain cellular activity or viability, thus initiating or accelerating disc degeneration.

Original publication




Journal article


J Biomech

Publication Date





2645 - 2654


Animals, Biological Transport, Active, Computer Simulation, Glucose, Humans, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, Intervertebral Disc, Lactic Acid, Models, Biological, Oxygen, Spinal Diseases, Weight-Bearing