Biochemical and structural properties of the cartilage end-plate and its relation to the intervertebral disc.
Roberts S., Menage J., Urban JP.
The cartilaginous end-plate is thought to play an important role in the nutrition of the intervertebral disc, and hence may be of significance in the etiology of back pain. The present study describes the biochemical and histologic properties of the end-plate and adjacent tissues in the young human adult lumbar spine. Thus, a datum is established in which to demonstrate variation with location and relationships between properties of different tissues. Results of the chemical analyses show a change in composition through the end-plate with that at the outer annulus and nearer the bone, having higher collagen but lower proteoglycan and water contents, than the end-plate nearest the disc at the nucleus. Histology demonstrated numerous disruptions along the end-plate, with Schmorl's nodes being present in several specimens. Where these occurred, the disc, and in some cases the end-plate, showed loss of proteoglycan compared with the surrounding tissue.