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Fucoxanthin ameliorates endoplasmic reticulum stress and inhibits apoptosis and alleviates intervertebral disc degeneration in rats by upregulating Sirt1.

Endoplasmic reticulum stress (ERS) and apoptosis of nucleus pulposus (NP) cells are considered to be the main pathological factors of intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD). Fucoxanthin (FX), a marine carotenoid extracted from microalgae, has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of FX on NP cells induced by oxidative stress and its molecular mechanism. Primary NP cells of the lumbar vertebrae of rats were extracted and tested in vitro. qRT-PCR, western blot, immunofluorescence, and TUNEL staining were used to detect apoptosis, ERS, extracellular matrix (ECM), and Sirt1-related pathways. In vivo experiments, the recovery of IDD rats was determined by X-ray, hematoxylin and eosin, Safranin-O/Fast Green, Alcian staining, and immunohistochemistry. Our study showed that oxidative stress induced ERS, apoptosis, and ECM degradation in NP cells. After the use of FX, the expression of Sirt1 was up-regulated, the activation of PERK-eIF2α-ATF4-CHOP was decreased, and apoptosis and ECM degradation were decreased. At the same time, FX improved the degree of disc degeneration in rats in vivo. Our study demonstrates the effect of FX on improving IDD in vivo and in vitro, suggesting that FX may be a potential drug for the treatment of IDD.

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