We have in recent studies presented unexpected immunohistochemical evidence favoring the existence of a local production of catecholamines, and an occurrence of adrenergic receptors on the tendon cells (tenocytes), in the human patellar tendon. This was particularly noticed for tendons from patients suffering from tendinosis (chronic tendon pain), which has led us to propose an involvement of this autocrine/paracrine system in the development of tendinosis, especially since catecholamines have been reported to be modulators of tissue remodeling and pain processes. However, the findings concerning catecholamine production have so far only been noted at the level of protein detection, and for this reason, the aim of the present study was to confirm the previous immunohistochemical results by using in situ hybridization (ISH) technique. A ssDNA probe detecting human mRNA for the catecholamine-synthesizing enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) was applied. The ISH results revealed that there were clear reactions indicating the existence of mRNA for TH in tenocytes of tendinosis specimens. It was generally noted that disfigured tenocytes were the ones with the most distinct reactions, while normally looking tenocytes hardly displayed any reactions at all. In conclusion, this study presents the first evidence at the mRNA level of the existence of a local nonneuronal production of catecholamines in human patellar tendon tissue. The findings add to recent observations of the occurrence of a local production in tendons of signal substances traditionally related to neurons.
(c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.