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Calcitonin gene-related peptide, substance P and GAP-43/B-50 immunoreactivity in the normal and arthrotic knee joint of the mouse

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to describe the normal distribution of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) and substance P (SP) containing fibres in the knee joint of the mouse and to obtain insight into the changes in innervation associated with degenerative processes in the joint. Arthrosis was induced by a single subpatellar intra-articular injection of bacterial collagenase. After decalcification in EDTA solutions, the CGRP and SP fibres were visualized by peroxidase-antiperoxidase pre-embedding immunocytochemistry for light microscopy. Control experiments on the mouse brain as a reference for the effect of EDTA on the immunostaining showed that the decalcification procedure with EDTA had not impaired the immunostaining. A rich innervation of thin varicose CGRP and SP immunoreactive fibres was found in most peri- and intra-articular tissue components. The periosteum, synovial tissues, the joint capsule and the intra-articular fat tissues were richly innervated. Less intense innervations were also found in the subchondral bone plates of the tibio-femoral joint and of the patella. Fibres were also found in the soft tissues between the patellar tendon and the femoral groove. No differences could be found between the location of CGRP and SP fibres with respect to the localization in the joint, but generally more CGRP fibres were found. The collagenase-induced osteoarthrosis was characterized by sclerosis of the subchondral bone, patellar dislocation, osteophyte formation, synovial proliferation and by severe cartilage abrasion, particularly on the medial side of the femoro-tibial joint. The overall distribution of CGRP and SP fibres was the same as in the control joints. However, major differences were found in all studied joints at specific locations around the cruciate ligaments, in the synovium around the patella, in the soft tissues lateral of the patella and in plica tissue between the patella and femoral groove. The CGRP and SP innervation was no longer detectable by immunolabelling with the antibodies. With a polyclonal antibody to the growth associated protein GAP-43/B-50, signs of degenerated axonal profiles were observed in these locations. At other peripheral locations, such as the muscles, the GAP-43/B-50 distribution was normal. In conclusion, the present study provides detailed information on the localization of CGRP and SP fibres, which may be involved in pain perception. Knowledge of the changes that occur during arthrosis may give more insight into the clinical symptoms.

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Buma, P., Verschuren, C., Versleyen, D. et al. Calcitonin gene-related peptide, substance P and GAP-43/B-50 immunoreactivity in the normal and arthrotic knee joint of the mouse. Histochemistry 98, 327–339 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00270017

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