Morphogenesis of aligned collagen fibers in the annulus fibrosus: Mammals versus avians

Samaneh Ghazanfari, Arie Werner, Sara Ghazanfari, James C. Weaver, Theodoor H. Smit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The mammalian intervertebral disc (IVD) consists of a gel-like, disordered nucleus pulposus (NP) surrounded by a highly ordered collagen structure, the annulus fibrosus (AF). While this concentric array of lamellae has been amply studied, its physical origin is poorly understood. The notochord is a rod-like organ located in the mid-line of the growing embryo and plays an essential role in IVD development. The aim of this study was to elucidate the effect of notochord development on the collagen fiber arrangement evolution in the AF. To that end, we studied IVD development in mouse embryos and compared these observations to those from chicken embryos, which do not form the typical laminar structure around the NP. In mouse, cross-aligned collagen arrangement of the AF forms from the sclerotome upon bulging of the notochord to become NP. By contrast, the notochord in the chicken embryo swells substantially without the physical restrictions of the future vertebrae and thus do not bulge. From these observations, we conclude that physical and geometrical constrictions are essential for the formation of the highly structured AF.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1168-1173
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Cite this