Back pain and advanced glycation end products (AGEs)

Two 2020 rodent studies investigated intervertebral disk degeneration, with the first on AGEs’ role:

“This study evaluated the role of AGEs and RAGE in driving early intervertebral disk (IVD) degeneration processes in mice. Aging and diabetes are associated with increased low-back pain and IVD degeneration, yet causal mechanisms remain uncertain. AGEs:

  • Accumulate in IVDs from aging;
  • Are implicated in diabetes-related disorders;
  • Alter collagen; and
  • Induce proinflammatory conditions.

A mixed population of 23 male and female wild type AC57BL/6J mice were each assigned to two isocaloric diet groups after weaning. They received either low-AGE chow containing 7.6 μg/mg AGE, or high-AGE chow containing 40.9 μg/mg AGE generated via high-temperature heating (NIH-31 open formula chow autoclaved for 30 minutes at 120°C [248° F]). This in vivo dietary model was previously shown to increase IVD AGE accumulation without systemic obesity or diabetes.

disc AGE damage

AGE accumulation leads to RAGE-dependent collagen disruption in the annulus fibrosus, and can initiate molecular and tissue level collagen disruption. Second harmonic generation (SHG) and collagen-hybridizing peptide (CHP) analyzes were sensitive to collagenous alterations at multiple hierarchical levels due to AGE.

These methods may be useful in identifying additional contributors to collagen damage in IVD degeneration processes.”

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jsp2.1126 “Advanced glycation end products cause RAGE-dependent annulus fibrosus collagen disruption and loss identified using in situ second harmonic generation imaging in mice intervertebral disk in vivo and in organ culture models”

Other human studies found degenerative spine disorders start at detectable levels during adolescence. Those study designs didn’t trace disc degeneration to diet, though.


A second study was summarized in a conference I’m sure researchers would like to reconvene:

“Kritschil et al investigated the role of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) signaling on progression of disc degeneration in aging mice. They showed that diminished IGF-1 bioavailability confers both beneficial effects of decreased disc cell senescence and extracellular matrix catabolism, whilst at the same time negatively impacting proteoglycan production.”

jsp21134-fig-0001-m

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jsp2.1134 “Advancing basic and preclinical spine research: Highlights from the ORS PSRS 5th International Spine Research Symposium”

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jsp2.1112 “Effects of suppressing bioavailability of insulin-like growth factor on age-associated intervertebral disc degeneration”

This study asserted:

“Despite some inconsistent findings on the role of IGF-1 among human centenarian and animal model studies, there is overwhelming evidence to support that disruptions to the IGF-1 signaling pathway promotes healthy longevity.”

See Take responsibility for your one precious life – DHEA for other evidence on IGF-1.


Spent a large part of this weekend reading abstracts and studies concerning diet interactions with spinal disc degeneration. This AGE study provided more evidence than others on these relationships.

I’ve eaten AGE-less chicken vegetable soup almost every day for two years:

  • 237 g chicken breast cubes, 179 g celery, and 262 g carrots in 1 cup Savignon Blanc get up to 100° C around 9 minutes initially, then again about 6 minutes after I add 1 quart chicken broth, then I turn off the Instant Pot.
  • I stir in 340 g mushrooms, 31 g garlic, and 387 g Roma tomatoes five minutes later at about 85° C, and they cool the soup down to around 70° C. I let it stew for another 15 minutes before eating half (1.5 quarts).
  • A 1.5 quart leftover heated the next day for six minutes in a 1000W microwave reaches 55° C.

I do stretches every day to accommodate a L5-S1 disc replacement with a titanium-cage-and-rods apparatus done ten years ago, and a C5-C6-C7 similar operation done eleven years ago. Can’t say whether recent diet, last decades’ disc replacement surgeries, daily stretches and exercises, or other factors are responsible for absence of spine pain.

PXL_20210717_093614850.NIGHT

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