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Intervertebral discs are a common site of localized articular and some forms of systemic articular amyloid deposition. Whether there is an intrinsic matrix factor that favours amyloid deposition in intervertebral disc connective tissues is uncertain, but it is known that small localized deposits of amyloid in intervertebral discs are largely age related. As the glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) composition of the intervertebral disc is known to change with age, and as some forms of systemic amyloid deposition have been shown to be associated with particular highly sulphated GAGs, we examined the GAGs profile of amyloid deposits in intervertebral discs using mucin histochemistry (Alcian blue: MgCl2 critical electrolyte concentration) and immunohistochemistry. We found strong staining for very highly sulphated GAGs (0.9 M and 1 M MgCl2) and confirmed the presence of keratan sulphate in both localized and systemic, dialysis-associated beta 2-microglobulin amyloid deposits within disc fibrocartilage. These findings suggest that qualitative and quantitative changes in matrix GAGs, particularly strongly sulphated GAGs such as keratan sulphate, may play a role in the pathogenesis of localized and systemic amyloid deposition in intervertebral discs.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur spine j

Publication Date





308 - 312


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Amyloid, Female, Glycosaminoglycans, Humans, Immunohistochemistry, Intervertebral Disc, Male, Middle Aged, beta 2-Microglobulin