Objective—To investigate the relationship between runt-related transcription factor 2 (RUNX2) expression in canine nucleus pulposus (NP) cells and intervertebral disk aging in chondrodystrophoid dogs.
Animals—7 healthy Beagles (mean age, 35.6 months) and 11 Dachshunds with herniated disks (mean age, 61 months).
Procedures—All dogs underwent MRI examination of the thoracic and lumbar vertebral column immediately before sample collection under general anesthesia. The disk center–to–CSF T2-weighted signal intensity ratio was determined for healthy Beagles. Samples of NP were obtained from nonherniated disks in healthy Beagles and from herniated disks during surgical treatment of hospitalized Dachshunds. Samples were evaluated for RUNX2 and matrix metalloproteinase 13 transcript expression via reverse transcriptase PCR assay; RUNX2 protein expression was evaluated via immunohistochemical analysis, and correlation between these variables and age of dogs was evaluated. A 3′ and 5′ rapid amplification of cDNA ends method was used to identify the RUNX2 coding region.
Results—RUNX2 cDNA had > 97% conservation with the human cDNA sequence and approximately 95% conservation with the mouse cDNA sequence; RUNX2 and matrix metalloproteinase 13 mRNA expression and RUNX2 protein expression in NP cells were positively correlated with age. The disk center–to–CSF T2-weighted signal intensity ratio was negatively correlated with RUNX2 protein expression in the NP of healthy dogs.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that RUNX2 mRNA and protein expression in the NP are enhanced in aging intervertebral disks in dogs.