Low back pain (LBP) is the leading cause of disability worldwide, with an estimated 80% of the American population suffering from a painful back condition at some point during their lives. The most common cause of LBP is intervertebral disc (IVD) degeneration (IVDD), a condition that can be difficult to treat, either surgically or medically, with current available therapies. Thus, understanding the pathological mechanisms of IVDD and developing novel treatments are critical for improving outcome and quality of life in people living with LBP. While experimental animal models provide valuable mechanistic insight, each model has limitations that complicate translation to the clinical setting.
This review focuses on the chondrodystrophic canine clinical model of IVDD as a promising model to assess IVD-associated spinal pain and translational therapeutic strategies for LBP. The canine IVD, while smaller in size than human, goat, ovine, and bovine IVDs, is larger than most other small animal IVDD models and undergoes maturational changes similar to those of the human IVD.
Furthermore, both dogs and humans develop painful IVDD as a spontaneous process, resulting in similar characteristic pathologies and clinical signs.
Future exploration of the canine model as a model of IVD-associated spinal pain and biological treatments using the canine clinical model will further demonstrate its translational capabilities with the added ethical benefit of treating an existing veterinary patient population with IVDD.
KEYWORDS: degeneration; pain; preclinical models