Proteoglycans are high molecular weight glycoproteins found in connective tissue. They imbibe water into intervertebral disc and apophyseal joint articular cartilage, endowing the tissues with elasticity and compressibility. A decrease in total tissue content of proteoglycans appears to predispose intervertebral disc to degeneration. The earliest tissue changes associated with the onset of spondylosis occur at the molecular level and may include alterations in proteoglycan structure and content. A number of models have been suggested to describe the relationship between changes in proteoglycan composition and degenerative changes in cartilage and intervertebral disc.
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