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Further proof of the existence of a non-neuronal cholinergic system in the human Achilles tendon: Presence of the AChR alpha 7 receptor in tendon cells and cells in the peritendinous tissue
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Integrative Medical Biology (IMB), Anatomy.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Community Medicine and Rehabilitation, Sports medicine.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Integrative Medical Biology (IMB), Anatomy. Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgical and Perioperative Sciences, Hand Surgery.
2015 (English)In: International Immunopharmacology, ISSN 1567-5769, E-ISSN 1878-1705, Vol. 29, no 1, 195-200 p.Article in journal (Refereed) PublishedText
Abstract [en]

Human tendon cells have the capacity for acetylcholine (ACh) production. It is not known if the tendon cells also have the potential for ACh breakdown, nor if they show expression of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor AChR alpha 7 (alpha 7nAChR). Therefore, tendon tissue specimens from patients with midportion Achilles tendinopathy/tendinosis and from normal midportion Achilles tendons were examined. Reaction for the degradative enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE) was found in some tenocytes in only a few tendinopathy tendons, and was never found in those of control tendons. Tenocytes displayed more regularly alpha 7nAChR immunoreactivity. However, there was a marked heterogeneity in the degree of this reaction within and between the specimens. alpha 7nAChR immunoreactivity was especially pronounced for tenocytes showing an oval/widened appearance. There was a tendency that the magnitude of alpha 7nAChR immunoreactivity was higher in tendinopathy tendons as compared to control tendons. A stronger alpha 7nAChR immunoreactivity than seen for tenocytes was observed for the cells in the peritendinous tissue. It is likely that the alpha 7nAChR may be an important part of an auto-and paracrine loop of non-neuronal ACh that is released from the tendon cells. The effects may be related to proliferative and blood vessel regulatory functions as well as features related to collagen deposition. ACh can furthermore be of importance in leading to anti-inflammatory effects in the peritendinous tissue, a tissue nowadays considered to be of great relevance for the tendinopathy process. Overall, the findings show that tendon tissue, a tissue known to be devoid of cholinergic innervation, is a tissue in which there is a marked non-neuronal cholinergic system.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 29, no 1, 195-200 p.
Keyword [en]
Cholinergic, Nicotinic, Achilles, Tendons, Tenocytes
National Category
Sport and Fitness Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-113448DOI: 10.1016/j.intimp.2015.04.055ISI: 000365365500033PubMedID: 25981114OAI: diva2:885162
Available from: 2015-12-18 Created: 2015-12-18 Last updated: 2015-12-18Bibliographically approved

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