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Marked sympathetic component in the perivascular innervation of the dorsal paratendinous tissue of the patellar tendon in arthroscopically treated tendinosis patients

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Abstract

During the recent years, a few studies have shed new light on the innervation patterns of the human patellar tendon, but the area of the loose paratendinous connective tissue dorsal to the proximal tendon proper has yet not been investigated. That is a drawback, since this is the area targeted in promising treatment regimens of chronic painful patellar tendinosis, namely sclerosing Polidocanol injection therapy, and a new surgical method conforming to ultrasound and color Doppler guided arthroscopic shaving, directed at neovessels found in the region. The present study thus aimed at investigating the paratendinous area dorsal to the proximal patellar tendon proper in seven patients being operated for tendinosis. Biopsies were collected through the new arthroscopic technique, approaching the tendon from the dorsal side. Samples were investigated using immunohistochemistry with antibodies delineating general (PGP 9.5), sensory (SP/CGRP), and sympathetic (TH/NPY) nerve patterns, and also antibodies against α1- and α2A-adrenoreceptors. Both small and large blood vessels had a marked perivascular innervation (PGP 9.5). Surprisingly, this perivascular innervation was found only to a very limited extent to correspond to sensory nerves, while there were marked immunoreactions for sympathetic markers. Adrenoreceptor immunoreactions frequently occurred in blood vessel walls. In conclusion, this study demonstrates, for the first time, the innervation patterns of the area dorsal to the patellar tendon in man. It shows that the area investigated is under marked influence by the sympathetic nervous system. Thus, sympathetic effects are likely to occur for blood vessels of the area, which is interesting since color Doppler has revealed that vessels of this area (“neovessels”) display a pathologically high blood flow in tendinosis. The findings are discussed in relation to aspects of vascular regulation, and to pain symptoms of tendinosis.

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Acknowledgments

The authors thank Ms. Ulla Hedlund for outstanding technical services. Financial support was obtained by the Faculty of Medicine at Umeå University, the Swedish National Centre for Research in Sports, the County Council of Västerbotten and the Arnerska Research Foundation.

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Correspondence to Patrik Danielson.

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Danielson, P., Andersson, G., Alfredson, H. et al. Marked sympathetic component in the perivascular innervation of the dorsal paratendinous tissue of the patellar tendon in arthroscopically treated tendinosis patients. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthr 16, 621–626 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00167-008-0530-1

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Keywords

  • Tendinopathy
  • Jumper’s knee
  • Sympathetic innervation
  • Adrenoreceptors