Abstract

Herniated intervertebral disc tissue has been shown to produce a number of proinflammatory mediators and cytokines, but there have been no similar studies using discs from patients with discogenic low back pain.

We have compared the levels of production of interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-8 (IL-8) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) in disc tissue from patients undergoing discectomy for sciatica (63) with that from patients undergoing fusion for discogenic low back pain (20) using an enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assay.

There was a statistically significant difference between levels of production of IL-6 and IL-8 in the sciatica and low back pain groups (p < 0.006 and p < 0.003, respectively).

The high levels of proinflammatory mediator found in disc tissue from patients undergoing fusion suggest that production of proinflammatory mediators within the nucleus pulposus may be a major factor in the genesis of a painful lumbar disc.

  • Received June 8, 2001.
  • Accepted August 3, 2001.