Author(s): Smith LJ, Fazzalari NL
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Abstract Elastic fibres are critical components of the extracellular matrix in dynamic biological structures that undergo extension and recoil. Their presence has been demonstrated in the anulus fibrosus of the human lumbar intervertebral disc; however, a detailed regional analysis of their density and arrangement has not been undertaken, limiting our understanding of their structural and functional roles. In this investigation we have quantitatively described regional variations in elastic fibre density in the anulus fibrosus of the human L3-L4 intervertebral disc using histochemistry and light microscopy. Additionally, a multiplanar comparison of patterns of elastic fibre distribution in the intralamellar and interlamellar zones was undertaken. Novel imaging techniques were developed to facilitate the visualization of elastic fibres otherwise masked by dense surrounding matrix. Elastic fibre density was found to be significantly higher in the lamellae of the posterolateral region of the anulus than the anterolateral, and significantly higher in the outer regions than the inner, suggesting that elastic fibre density in each region of the anulus is commensurate with the magnitude of the tensile deformations experienced in bending and torsion. Elastic fibre arrangments in intralamellar and interlamellar zones were shown to be architecturally distinct, suggesting that they perform multiple functional roles within the anulus matrix structural hierarchy.
This article was published in J Anat
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Experimental Pathology