The role of the intervertebral disc cartilage catabolites in Modic type 1 changes


Inflammation and scarring of the vertebral bone marrow are often seen in patients with chronic low back pain on MRI. These changes are called Modic type 1 changes (MC1). They occur adjacent to a degenerated intervertebral disc. In most cases disc degeneration does not cause pain. In contrast, MC1 are in most cases a source of pain.

Facts and Figures

Project Lead
S Dudli
University of Zurich
FOREUM research grant: € 200.000

Meet the Team

Project Lead

S Dudli
University of Zurich
O Distler
University of Zurich


The aim is to identify molecules that cause inflammation and scarring of vertebral bone marrow, processes that contribute to chronic low back pain. Once these molecules are identified and understood how they cause inflammation and scarring of the bone marrow, different drugs that stop this undesired painful reaction in the bone marrow will be tested.


M1 12 mts: Identified ECM-derived DAMPs and dysregulated pathways
M2 24 mts: Most relevant ECM-derived DAMPs identified causing MC1-like changes in-vitro
M3 36 mts:  Inhibitors tested to inhibit MC1-like changes by ECM-DAMPs in-vitro
M4 40 mts: Last manuscript submitted. Project completed.

Patient Voice

A supervising committee with patient representatives from local low back pain organizations and a few key opinion leaders will be formed. This committee has the goal to control the translational direction of the project from the very beginning and to help communicate the findings of the project.

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