Sequestration of nerve growth factor (NGF) significantly attenuates skeletal pain in both animals and humans. However, relatively little is known about the specific cell types that express NGF or its cognate receptors tropomyosin receptor kinase A (TrkA) and p75 in the intact bone and articular cartilage. In the present study, antibodies raised against NGF, TrkA, and p75 (also known as CD271) were used to explore the expression of these antigens in the non-decalcified young mouse femur. In general, all three antigens displayed a remarkably restricted expression in bone and cartilage with less than 2% of all DAPI+ cells in the femur displaying expression of any one of the three antigens. Robust NGF immunoreactivity was found in mostly CD-31− blood vessel-associated cells, a small subset of CD-31+ endothelial cells, an unidentified group of cells located at the subchondral bone/articular cartilage interface, and a few isolated, single cells in the bone marrow. In contrast, p75 and TrkA were almost exclusively expressed by nerve fibers located nearby NGF+ blood vessels. The only non-neuronal expression of either p75 or TrkA in the femur was the expression of p75 by a subset of cells located in the deep and middle zone of the articular cartilage. Understanding the factors that tightly regulate the basal level of expression in normal bone and how the expression of NGF, TrkA, and p75 change in injury, disease, and aging may provide insights into novel therapies that can reduce skeletal pain and improve skeletal health.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine