Substance P-containing nerves within the human vertebral body. an immunohistochemical study of the basivertebral nerve

Spine J. 2003 Jan-Feb;3(1):63-7. doi: 10.1016/s1529-9430(02)00455-2.


Background content: The basivertebral nerve provides innervation to the trabecular bone of the vertebral body. The function of this nerve is not known.

Purpose: The study was undertaken to better define the anatomic origin of this intraosseous nerve and to determine if this nerve contains substance P.

Methods: The basivertebral nerve, which enters the vertebral body by means of the large posterior vascular foramen was studied anatomically by dissection and then histologically characterized. Sixty-two specimens of the basivertebral nerve were harvested from within the bone by microscopically aided dissection. Specimens were harvested from cervical, thoracic and lumbar vertebrae. These specimens were then stained for the presence of protein S-100 and substance P.

Results: All 62 specimens stained positively for both S-100 and substance P.

Conclusion: The presence of substance P within these nerves is strong evidence that these nerves have the potential to transmit signals of nociception. The basivertebral nerve may play a role in some forms of clinical back and neck pain.

MeSH terms

  • Cadaver
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Nervous System / metabolism
  • S100 Proteins / metabolism
  • Spine / innervation*
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Substance P / metabolism*


  • S100 Proteins
  • Substance P