Degradation of the elastic network in scoliotic discs

The spinal column consists of bones (vertebral bodies) interspersed with discs (a softer pliable tissue). The discs allow the spine to bend and twist. The discs are made of biomolecules particularly collagen, a string-like protein which provides the disc with its framework and structural strength while elastic fibres hold the collagen network in place. In scoliosis, the shape of the whole spinal column is disturbed, with the discs being more deformed than the bone.

The objective of this project was to investigate the role of the elastic fibre network in scoliosis by studying the elastic fibre, microfibril and collagen network organisation of scoliotic discs including patients of AIS, MFS and NMS and compare it to that seen in normal discs.

The ultimate aim of this work is to understand the contribution of disc macromolecule composition and organisation to the progression of the scoliotic deformity and hence to gain a better understanding of the aetiology of AIS.


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