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Cell Tissue Res. 1998 Jul;293(1):87-93.

Light- and electron-microscopic study of the distribution of axons containing substance P and the localization of neurokinin-1 receptor in bone.

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  • 1Department of Oral Anatomy, Faculty of Dentistry, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, 812-8582, Japan.


Substance P (SP) is a neuropeptide that is released from axons of sensory neurons and causes signal transduction through the activation of the neurokinin-1 receptor (NK1-R). The present study demonstrates the distribution of SP-like-immunoreactive (SP-LI) axons and the localization of NK1-Rs in rat bone tissue using the avidin-biotin-peroxidase complex method. Axons with SP-LI were commonly found near the trabecular bone in the temporal bone marrow, but they were only sparsely distributed in the mandible, femur, and tibia. Immunoreactivity for NK1-Rs was found on the plasma membrane and in the cytoplasm of the osteoclasts. In the osteoblasts and osteocytes, a small number of weak, punctate immunoreactive products of NK1-Rs were distributed close to the plasma membrane. At the electron-microscopic level, immunoreactivity for NK1-R was distributed mainly in the whole cytoplasm, except for the clear zone of the osteoclasts, and in pit-like structures along the plasma membrane. The NK1-R-immunoreactive structures in the cytoplasm were divided into two types of organelles, consisting of vesicular and vacuolar structures (probably transport vesicles and early endosomes). In the osteoblasts and osteocytes, the number of NK1-R-positive vesicular structures was fewer than in the osteoclasts. These results thus suggest that SP secreted by the sensory axons could directly modulate bone metabolism via NK1-Rs.

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