Mechanotransduction plays a critical role in intracellular functioning--it allows cells to translate external physical forces into internal biochemical activities, thereby affecting processes ranging from proliferation and apoptosis to gene expression and protein synthesis in a complex web of interactions and reactions. Accordingly, aberrant mechanotransduction can either lead to, or be a result of, a variety of diseases or degenerative states. In this review, we provide an overview of mechanotransduction in the context of intervertebral discs, with a focus on the latest methods of investigating mechanotransduction and the most recent findings regarding the means and effects of mechanotransduction in healthy and degenerative discs. We also provide some discussion of potential directions for future research and treatments.
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