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Cell Tissue Res. 1991 Jun;264(3):469-80.

Distribution of CGRP-, VIP-, D beta H-, SP-, and NPY-immunoreactive nerves in the periosteum of the rat.

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Department of Medicine, University of Miami School of Medicine, FL 33101.


In light of the possible role peripheral nerves may play in bone metabolism, the morphology of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)-, vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP)-, substance P (SP)-, neuropeptide Y (NPY)-, and dopamine-beta-hydroxylase (D beta H)-immunoreactive nerve fibers was examined in whole-mount preparations of periosteum of membranous bones (calvaria, mandible) and long bones (tibia) from the rat. Periosteum from animals treated to remove selectively either the sympathetic or fine-caliber primary afferent nerves was also examined to determine the origin of the nerve fibers. We found a consistent and often dense innervation of the periosteum. The innervation patterns of the calvaria and mandible were similar, with networks of nerves spread across the surface of the bone. Nerves in the tibial periosteum were oriented in the longitudinal axis and were more numerous at the epiphyses than in the mid-shaft region. CGRP-immunoreactive fibers were widely and densely distributed. The presence of populations of CGRP-immunoreactive fibers of differing calibers and perivascular arrangements suggests that such nerves in bone tissues may serve different functions. SP-immunoreactivity was present in a fine network of varicose fibers in the superficial layers of the periosteum. CGRP- and SP-immunoreactive nerve fibers were dramatically reduced in periosteum of capsaicin-treated animals as compared to controls, indicating the sensory origin of these nerves. VIP-immunoreactive nerve fibers were distributed in the periosteum of mandible and calvaria as small networks and individual fine varicose fibers. In tibial periosteum, larger networks of these fibers were visible. VIP-immunoreactive nerve fibers in the periosteum were associated with both vascular and nonvascular elements within the layers of cells closest to the bone, suggesting that VIP may serve more than one function in periosteal tissues. NPY-immunoreactive fibers were largely confined to vascular elements; occasional fibers were observed among the bone-lining cells. D beta H-immunoreactivity was associated only with blood vessels. VIP-, NPY-, and D beta H-immunoreactivities were dramatically reduced in the periosteum of guanethidine-treated animals, indicating the sympathetic origin of these nerves.

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