One of the annoying symptoms of diabetes.  Many people have no idea that this is its effect

The effect of diabetes on intervertebral discs

A research team from the University of California and the University of Utah used advanced technology – SAXS – to investigate at the molecular level how diabetes affects collagen in intervertebral discs. It turns out that:

  • In healthy bodies, the collagen in intervertebral discs can rotate and expand under pressure.
  • In rats with type 2 diabetes, this ability was observed to be significantly reduced. The disease leads to collagen hardening and an increase in the number of so-called undigested cross-links in the collagen. This limits the ability of the discs to adapt under pressure.
  • This means that in cases of diabetes, the mechanisms that allow collagen to rotate and expand under stress are significantly reduced. This causes the discs to degenerate prematurely, making them less flexible, more fragile and susceptible to damage.

At the same time, lower back pain, often associated with the deterioration of the aforementioned discs, is associated with significant discomfort and may be one of the causes of disability.

These groundbreaking research findings give us insight into how collagen reorientation, straightening, stretching, and gliding are important to a disc's ability to withstand stress. Type 2 diabetes disrupts these mechanisms, leading to changes in the biomechanics of the entire disc.

The researchers stress the importance of conducting more research on the effects of diabetes on the skeletal system, and point out that they have opened the door to the development of new treatments for low back pain in people with diabetes. They also highlight the complexity of the impact that metabolic diseases can have on different aspects of physical health.

The study was published in the journal PNAS Nexus.

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