Presence of substance P and the neurokinin-1 receptor in tenocytes of the human Achilles tendon

Regul Pept. 2008 Oct 9;150(1-3):81-7. doi: 10.1016/j.regpep.2008.02.005. Epub 2008 Mar 4.


Nerve signal substances, such as the tachykinin substance P (SP), may be involved in the changes that occur in response to tendinopathy (tendinosis). It is previously known that the level of SP innervation within tendon tissue is limited, but results of experimental studies have suggested that SP may have stimulatory, angiogenetic and healing effects in injured tendons. Therefore, it would be of interest to know if there is a local SP-supply in tendon tissue. In the present study, the patterns of expression of SP and its preferred receptor, the neurokinin-1 receptor (NK-1 R), in normal and tendinosis human Achilles tendons were analyzed by use of both immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. We found that there was expression of SP mRNA in tenocytes, and that tenocytes showed expression of NK-1 R at protein as well as mRNA levels. The observations concerning both SP and NK-1 R were most evident for tenocytes in tendinosis tendons. Our findings suggest that SP is produced in tendinosis tendons, and furthermore that SP has marked effects on the tenocytes via the NK-1 R. It cannot be excluded that the SP effects are of importance concerning the processes of reorganization and healing that occur for tendon tissue in tendinosis. In conclusion, it appears as if SPergic autocrine/paracrine effects occur in tendon tissue during the processes of tendinosis, hitherto unknown effects for human tendons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon* / innervation
  • Achilles Tendon* / metabolism
  • Achilles Tendon* / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / genetics
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Neurokinin-1 / genetics
  • Receptors, Neurokinin-1 / metabolism*
  • Substance P / genetics
  • Substance P / metabolism*
  • Tendinopathy / genetics
  • Tendinopathy / metabolism*
  • Tendinopathy / pathology


  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Neurokinin-1
  • Substance P