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Publication Date



UM campus only

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biomedical Engineering (Engineering)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

C-Y Charles Huang

Second Committee Member

Weiyong Gu

Third Committee Member

Lee D. Kaplan


Back pain is one of the most common physical conditions in the United States, for which approximately 15% of the population will visit a doctor every year. The most common type of back pain is low back pain (LBP) and millions of dollars are spent every year healthcare are a due to LBP. Although poorly understood, low back pain has been associated to interveterbral disc (IVD) degeneration. The IVD is an important structure that helps maintaining normal skeletal support. It is composed of three different tissues called the annulus fibrosus (AF), and the nucleus pulposus (NP), attached to a cartilage endplate (CEP) at its top and bottom surfaces. The AF tissue is composed of chondrocyte-like cells, while the NP tissue is composed of notochordal cells at a young age, which are replaced by mature NP cells later in life. Common signs of degeneration are the inability to maintain extracellular matrix integrity and calcification of the cartilage endplate. Extracellular matrix synthesis and cartilage endplate calcification are closely related to production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) or energy metabolism of the cells. AF and NP tissues are known to be structurally and compositionally different; therefore it is believed that their metabolic pathways are also distinct. The objective of this study was to determine the differences between AF and NP cells, specifically in their energy metabolism with and without dynamic loading.


Intervertebral Disc; Cartilage Endplate; Nucleus Pulposus; Annulus Fibrosus