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Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2006 Feb;14(2):125-32. Epub 2005 Jun 28.

Distribution of general (PGP 9.5) and sensory (substance P/CGRP) innervations in the human patellar tendon.

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Department of Integrative Medical Biology, Section for Anatomy, Umeå University, 901 87 Umeå, Sweden.


There is no information on the pattern of blood vessel innervation, and in principle no information on innervation in general, in the human patellar tendon. In the present study, biopsies from the proximal part of normal and pain-free patellar tendons (11 men, mean age 33 years) were examined. The specimens were evaluated by using antibodies against the general nerve marker protein gene-product 9.5 (PGP 9.5) and the sensory neuropeptides substance P (SP) and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), and immunohistochemistry. It was observed that the arteries, and to some extent the small vessels, in the loose paratendinous connective tissue were supplied with PGP 9.5- as well as SP- and CGRP-innervations. There was a marked PGP 9.5-like immunoreaction (LI), and to some extent also SP- and CGRP-LI, in the large nerve fascicles in this tissue. In the tendon tissue proper, PGP 9.5-LI was detected in nerve fibers located in the vicinity of some of the blood vessels and in thin nerve fascicles. There was a low degree of SP- and CGRP-innervation in the tendon tissue proper. The observations give a morphologic correlate for the occurrence of nerve-mediated effects in the patellar tendon. Particularly it seems as if there is a marked nerve-mediated regulation of the blood vessels supplying the tendon, at the level where they course in the loose paratendinous connective tissue.

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