Vertebral body innervation: Implications for pain

J Cell Physiol. 2010 Mar;222(3):488-91. doi: 10.1002/jcp.21996.


Vertebral fractures often cause intractable pain. To define the involvement of vertebral body innervation in pain, we collected specimens from male and female patients during percutaneous kyphoplasty, a procedure used for reconstruction of the vertebral body. Specimens were taken from 31 patients (9 men and 22 women) suffering high-intensity pain before surgery. In total, 1,876 histological preparations were obtained and analysed. Immunohistochemical techniques were used to locate the nerves in the specimens. The nerve fibres were labelled by indirect immunofluorescence with the primary antibody directed against Protein Gene Product 9.5 (PGP 9.5), a pan-neuronal marker; another primary antibody directed against type IV collagen (Col IV) was used to identify vessels and to determine their relationship with vertebral nerve fibres. The mean percentage of samples in which it was possible to identify nerve fibres was 35% in men and 29% in women. The percentages varied depending on the spinal level considered and the sex of the subject, nerve fibres being mostly present around vessels (95%). In conclusion, there is scarce innervation of the vertebral bodies, with a clear prevalence of fibres located around vessels. It seems unlikely that this pattern of vertebral body innervation is involved in vertebral pain or in pain relief following kyphoplasty.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Collagen Type IV / analysis
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Fractures, Compression / physiopathology*
  • Fractures, Compression / surgery
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / innervation*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Intractable / physiopathology*
  • Pain, Intractable / surgery
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Spinal Fractures / physiopathology*
  • Spinal Fractures / surgery
  • Spinal Nerves / chemistry
  • Spinal Nerves / physiopathology*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / innervation*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ubiquitin Thiolesterase / analysis
  • Vertebroplasty


  • Collagen Type IV
  • UCHL1 protein, human
  • Ubiquitin Thiolesterase