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Exp Physiol. 1995 May;80(3):349-57.

Prolonged alteration of vasoconstrictor and vasodilator responses in rat knee joints by adjuvant monoarthritis.

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Institute of Physiology, University of Glasgow, UK.


Both neurogenic influences and the regulatory neuropeptide substance P (SP) have been implicated in the development of joint inflammation. Using the laser Doppler perfusion imaging technique to quantify relative changes in joint blood flow, the effects of nerve stimulation and topical SP application were examined in normal and chronically inflamed rat knee joints. Synovial inflammation was induced by unilateral intra-articular injection of Freund's complete adjuvant and experiments were carried out 1 week and 3 weeks later. Normal knees showed a frequency-dependent vasoconstriction in response to saphenous nerve stimulation over the range of 5-30 Hz and a dose-dependent vasodilation in response to SP administration. These vasoactive responses were completely abolished in the chronically inflamed knee joint, the abolition persisting throughout the investigation. Since articular cartilage is critically dependent on synovial fluid formation for its nutrition, loss of neurovascular control of the synovial microcirculation could contribute to the degenerative changes that commonly accompany chronic inflammatory joint diseases.

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