Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

PURPOSE: Intervertebral disk (IVD) lesion and its subsequent degeneration have a profound effect on the multifidus muscle. The subacute/early chronic phase of multifidus remodeling after IVD lesion has been proposed to be regulated by inflammatory processes. The balance between pro-inflammatory (M1) and anti-inflammatory (M2) macrophages plays an important role in maintaining tissue integrity after injury. The localization, polarization of macrophage subtypes and their mediation of the pro-inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF) are unknown in paraspinal muscles during IVD degeneration. A sheep model of IVD degeneration was used to investigate the role of macrophages and TNF in the structural alterations that occur within the multifidus muscle. METHODS: Anterolateral lesions were induced at L3-4 IVD in sheep. Multifidus muscle tissue at L4 was harvested 3 and 6 months after lesion and used for immunofluorescence assays to examine total macrophage number, macrophage polarization between M1 and M2, and to assess the localization of TNF expression in muscle, adipose and connective tissues from injured and naïve control animals. RESULTS: A greater proportion of M1 macrophages is present in muscle at both 3 and 6 months after IVD lesion, and adipose tissue at 6 months. Total number of macrophages is unchanged. At 6 months, expression of TNF is increased in adipose and connective tissue and the proportion of TNF expressed by M1 macrophages is increased. CONCLUSIONS: These data support the proposal that macrophages and TNF (pro-inflammatory cytokine) play an active role in the subacute/early chronic phase of remodeling in muscle, adipose and connective tissues of the multifidus during IVD degeneration. This presents a novel target for treatment. These slides can be retrieved under Electronic Supplementary Material.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur Spine J

Publication Date



Adipose, IVD lesion, Macrophage, Multifidus muscle, Pro-inflammatory, TNF