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Objective : In order to establish the index of degeneration, the authors performed a histochemical study with Safranin-O staining and investigated the occurrence of apoptosis in the human intervertebral disc. Methods : Eighteen intervertebral disc specimens surgically extracted from the patients and two additional specimens from the autopsied cases were stained with Safranin-O for proteoglycan according to a standard protocol. Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate- biotin nick end labeling(TUNEL) was used to detect the fragmented DNA known to be associated with apoptotic cell death and classification scheme was formulated for categorization of the degree of Safranin-O staining (normal, moderate reduction, faint) by modification of Makin’s histological-histochemical grading. The Kruskal-Wallis H test and Chi-square test were used for statistical analysis. Results : The statistical results showed a significant difference in the mean age between “normal”Safranin-O staining group and the others (19.3 versus 55, 43.4, p=0.021). However,there was no statistically significant correlation between Safranin-O staining and MR grading of disc degeneration. Only six of eighteen surgical specimens and none in autopsies showed positive apoptotic cells in TUNEL staining. Conclusion : The determination of the degree of degeneration in surgically obtained disc tissue per seby histochemical staining or by the degree of apoptosis that corresponds to its morphologic change was not feasible.