Physiol. Res. 54: 549-556, 2005

Immunohistochemical Localization of Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide and Substance P in the Rat Knee Cartilage at Birth


1Department of Orthopedics and Traumatology, University of Rome, "Tor Vergata" School of Medicine, Rome, Italy and 2Department of Trauma and Orthopedic Surgery, Keele University School of Medicine, North Staffordshire Hospital, Thornburrow Drive, Hartshill, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, UK

Received July 26, 2004
Accepted November 2, 2004

Substance P (SP) and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) have been found in the perichondrium and within the cartilage canals. It is still unknown whether they exert a direct effect on chondrocytes during joint development. We processed 28 knees of newborn Wistar rats in 7 different fashions to perform histology and immunohistochemistry studies. Positive immunoreactivity against CGRP and SP was found in the inner aspect of the perichondrium in a close contact with chondrocytes. The presence of CGRP and SP indicates the presence of nerves fibers, and precedes the development of cartilage canals. Nerve fibers may play a role in the development of synovial joints before and during the presence of cartilage canals. The presence of CGRP and SP in the cartilage at birth may be involved in the early postnatal maturation of synovial joints. It remains to be determined whether autonomic innervation is later involved in age-related degenerative joint disease.

Key words
Cartilage development Peripheral nervous system

2005 by the Institute of Physiology, Czech Academy of Sciences