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The plantaris tendon in association with mid-portion Achilles tendinosis: tendinosis-like morphological features and presence of a non-neuronal cholinergic system
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Integrative Medical Biology (IMB), Anatomy.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgical and Perioperative Sciences, Sports Medicine.
Centre for Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics, Rosebank Johannesburg.
Centre for Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics, Rosebank Johannesburg.
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2013 (English)In: Histology and Histopathology, ISSN 0213-3911, E-ISSN 1699-5848, Vol. 28, 623-632 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The plantaris tendon is often neglected in morphological/clinical studies on the lower extremity. There is, however, clinical evidence that the plantaris tendon is involved in cases with Achilles midportion tendinopathy/tendinosis. It is nevertheless unclear if the plantaris tendon exhibits tendinosis-like features in this situation. We therefore investigated the plantaris tendon of patients with midportion Achilles tendinosis when the plantaris tendon was found to be located very close to or invaginated into the Achilles tendon, a situation which very often has been found to be the case. There was a very large number of tenocytes in the tendon tissue and the tenocytes showed abnormal and irregular appearances, exhibiting widened/rounded and wavy appearances, and were frequently lined up in rows. These features are characteristic features in Achilles tendinosis tendons. The tendon cells showed a distinct immunoreaction for the acetylcholine (ACh) -producing enzyme choline acetyltransferase (ChAT). Frequent fibroblasts were found in the loose connective tissue and these cells also showed a marked ChAT immunoreaction. The study shows that the plantaris tendon is morphologically affected in a similar way to the Achilles tendon in cases with midportion Achilles tendinosis and medial pain. The plantaris tendon may accordingly be a co-factor in these cases. The results also favour that there is a local ACh production both within the tendon tissue of the plantaris tendon and in the loose connective tissue. In conclusion, it is evident that plantaris tendons lying invaginated into or very close to the Achilles tendon in cases with midportion Achilles tendinosis show similar tendinosis features, as previously shown for the Achilles tendon itself in these cases.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 28, 623-632 p.
Keyword [en]
Plantaris tendon, Achilles tendon, Tendinopathy, Tenocyte morphology, Cholinergic, Choline acetyltransferase
National Category
Physiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-66856DOI: 10.14670/HH-28.623ISI: 000317749100008PubMedID: 23378267OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-66856DiVA: diva2:609530
Available from: 2013-03-06 Created: 2013-03-06 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The plantaris tendon in relation to the Achilles tendon in midportion Achilles tendinopathy: studies on morphology, innervation and signalling substances
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The plantaris tendon in relation to the Achilles tendon in midportion Achilles tendinopathy: studies on morphology, innervation and signalling substances
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Midportion Achilles tendinopathy (tendinosis) is a troublesome painful condition, often characterised by pain, local swelling, tenderness and functional disability. Despite extensive research, the pathogenesis is poorly understood and treatment remains challenging. Features related to the peritendinous connective tissue can be of importance. Recently it has been suggested that the plantaris tendon might be involved in this condition. Furthermore, it has been hypothesised that tendon pain and the tendinosis-related tissue changes in tendinopathy might be mediated by signalling substances such as glutamate and acetylcholine. A clinical observation, not scientifically evaluated, has been that unilateral treatment for bilateral Achilles tendinosis can lead to an effect on the contralateral side.

     The aim of this work was to examine the morphology and innervation patterns in the plantaris tendon and the peritendinous connective tissue in between the Achillles and plantaris tendons in midportion Achilles tendinopathy, and to evaluate if plantaris tendon removal has an effect on Achilles tendon structure. Another aim was to determine if unilateral treatment for Achilles tendinopathy targeting the peritendinous connective tissue can result in bilateral recovery. Furthermore the presence of non-neuronal cholinergic and glutamate systems was examined.

     Sections of plantaris tendons with adjacent peritendinous connective tissue from patients with midportion Achilles tendinopathy were stained for morphology (H&E), and innervation patterns were evaluated using antibodies against general nerve marker (PGP9.5), sensory (CGRP) and sympathetic (TH) nerve fibres and Schwann cells (S-100β). Furthermore immunostainings against non-neuronal aceylcholine (ChAT) and glutamate signalling components (glutamate, VGluT2, NMDAR1) were performed. Plantaris tendon cells were cultured and also stained for glutamate signalling components, and were stimulated with glutamate and glutamate receptor agonist NMDA. Furthermore, Ultrasound Tissue Characterisation (UTC) was used to monitor the integrity of the Achilles tendon collagen structure after plantaris tendon removal.

     Plantaris tendons exhibited tendinosis-like tissue patterns such as hypercellularity, collagen disorganisation and large numbers of blood vessels. The peritendinous connective tissue between the plantaris and Achilles tendons contained large numbers of fibroblasts and blood vessels and to some extent macrophages and mast cells. A marked innervation was found in the peritendinous connective tissue and there were also nerve fibres in the loose connective tissue spaces within the tendon tissue proper. Most nerve fibres were identified as sensory fibres. Some nerve fascicles in the peritendinous connective tissue showed absence of axons but homogenous reactions for Schwann cell marker. Tenocytes and cells in the peritendinous connective tissue expressed ChAT, glutamate, VGluT2 and NMDAR1. Tendon cells in vitro expressed VGluT2, NMDAR1 and glutamate. UTC showed significant improvement of Achilles tendon integrity 6 months after surgical plantaris tendon removal and scraping procedure. Eleven out of thirteen patients reported of a bilateral recovery after unilateral surgical treatment.

     The results of this work show that plantaris tendons exhibit tendinosis-like tissue changes, internal innervation and features that suggest occurrence of glutamate and acetylcholine production and signalling. Plantaris removal improves Achilles tendon structure suggesting possible compressive/shearing interference between the Achilles and plantaris tendons in tendinopathy. The peritendinous connective tissue shows marked innervation, which thus might transmit pain when being compressed. The partial absence of axons indicates a possible nerve degeneration. On the whole, the study gives new evidence favouring that the plantaris tendon and the peritendinous connective tissue might be of importance for pain and the tendinopathy process in midportion Achilles tendinopathy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University, 2015. 71 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1729
Keyword
Plantaris tendon, Achilles tendon, Achilles tendinopathy, innervation, morphology
National Category
Cell and Molecular Biology Orthopedics Sport and Fitness Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-103292 (URN)978-91-7601-290-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-06-12, BiA201, Biologihuset, Umeå University, Umeå, 09:00 (English)
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Available from: 2015-05-21 Created: 2015-05-19 Last updated: 2015-05-21Bibliographically approved

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