Extensive expression of markers for acetylcholine synthesis and of M2 receptors in tenocytes in therapy-resistant chronic painful patellar tendon tendinosis - a pilot study

Life Sci. 2007 May 30;80(24-25):2235-8. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2007.01.005. Epub 2007 Jan 12.


We have recently obtained evidence favoring the occurrence of an up-regulation of a non-neuronal cholinergic system in chronic painful patellar tendon tendinosis. It seems possible that this up-regulation to a certain degree may be involved in the manifestations of the disease. Today, there is a new, very successful, line of treatment of patellar tendinosis in the form of Doppler guided sclerosing injections. However, a few patients seem resistant to this therapy. Therefore, we have in this pilot study investigated biopsies from the patellar tendon of three such therapy-resistant patients, using immunohistochemistry. In situ hybridization was also applied. Comparisons were made with a material of specimens from both normal (n=16) and tendinosis (n=7) tendons, also previously examined. The study showed that there were extensive immunoreactions for choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) and vesicular acetylcholine transporter, as well as for the M(2) muscarinic acetylcholine receptor, in the overwhelming majority of the tenocytes. The immunoreactions were more pronounced than those generally obtained in the tendinosis tissue of the previously studied patients and clearly more pronounced than those of patellar tendon tissue of controls. Also, for the first time, we here present findings of mRNA for ChAT within tenocytes. In conclusion, it appears as if there is an excessive local acetylcholine (ACh) production and an occurrence of marked ACh effects in cases of severe tendinosis. An excessive production of local ACh might be related to pain sensation and the processes that occur in tendinosis development, such as cell proliferation. Thus, the results of this pilot study suggest that non-neuronal ACh is highly involved in the pathology of therapy-resistant patellar tendinosis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / biosynthesis*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase / genetics
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase / metabolism
  • Chronic Disease
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Patellar Ligament / metabolism*
  • Patellar Ligament / pathology
  • Patellar Ligament / physiopathology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M2 / genetics
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M2 / metabolism*
  • Tendinopathy / genetics
  • Tendinopathy / metabolism*
  • Tendinopathy / therapy
  • Vesicular Acetylcholine Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Vesicular Acetylcholine Transport Proteins / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M2
  • Vesicular Acetylcholine Transport Proteins
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase
  • Acetylcholine