Distribution and origin of nerve fibers in the rat temporomandibular joint capsule

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 The distribution and origin of nerve fibers containing neuropeptides and NOS projecting to the temporomandibular joint capsule (TMJ) of the rat were studied by retrograde tracing in combination with immunocytochemistry. Numerous nerve fibers were seen in the TMJ as revealed by the neuronal marker protein gene product 9.5. Nerve fibers containing neuropeptide Y (NPY), vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), pituitary adenylate cyclase activating peptide (PACAP), substance P (SP), calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), and nitric oxide synthase (NOS) were seen in the synovial membrane, the joint capsule and entering the articular disc. Injection of the retrograde tracer True Blue (TB) into the TMJ resulted in the appearance of numerous labeled nerve cell bodies in the trigeminal and superior cervical ganglia, and moderate numbers in the nodose, the otic, the sphenopalatine, the stellate and the dorsal root ganglia at levels C2–C5. Most of the TB-labeled cell bodies in the superior cervical and stellate ganglia contained NPY. In the trigeminal ganglion, numerous TB labeled cell bodies contained CGRP and a minor population stored SP, a few cell bodies were seen to store NOS or PACAP. In the sphenopalatine and otic ganglia, TB labeled cell bodies contained NOS or VIP. In the nodose ganglion, labeled cell bodies contained CGRP; other labeled cell bodies harbored NOS. In the cervical dorsal root ganglia, the majority of the labeled cell bodies stored CGRP and smaller populations stored SP and PACAP. Thus, the innervation of the TMJ is complex and many different ganglia are involved.

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Accepted: 13 October 1997

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Uddman, R., Grunditz, T., Kato, J. et al. Distribution and origin of nerve fibers in the rat temporomandibular joint capsule. Anat Embryol 197, 273–282 (1998).

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  • Key words Temporomandibular joint
  • True Blue
  • Innervation
  • Retrograde tracing