Severe and chronic low back pain is often associated with intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration. While imposing a considerable socio-economic burden worldwide, IVD degeneration is also severely impacting on the quality of life of affected individuals. Cell-based regenerative medicine approaches have moved into clinical trials, yet IVD cell identities in the mature disc remain to be fully elucidated and tissue heterogeneity exists, requiring a better characterization of IVD cells. The bovine coccygeal IVD is an accepted research model to study IVD mechano-biology and disc homeostasis. Recently, we identified novel IVD biomarkers in the outer annulus fibrosus (AF) and nucleus pulposus (NP) of the mature bovine coccygeal IVD through RNA in situ hybridization (AP-RISH) and z-proportion test. Here we follow up on Lam1
with fluorescent RNA in situ hybridization (FL-RISH) and confocal microscopy. This permits sub-cellular transcript localization and the addition of quantitative single-cell derived values of mRNA expression levels to our previous analysis. Lastly, we used a Gaussian mixture modeling approach for the exploratory analysis of IVD cells. This work complements our earlier cell population proportion-based study, confirms the previously proposed biomarkers and indicates even further heterogeneity of cells in the outer AF and NP of a mature IVD.
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