Although bone is continually being remodeled and ultimately declines with aging, little is known whether similar changes occur in the sensory and sympathetic nerve fibers that innervate bone. Here, immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy were used to examine changes in the sensory and sympathetic nerve fibers that innervate the young (10 days post-partum), adult (3 months) and aging (24 months) C57Bl/6 mouse femur. In all three ages examined, the periosteum was the most densely innervated bone compartment. With aging, the total number of sensory and sympathetic nerve fibers clearly declines as the cambium layer of the periosteum dramatically thins. Yet even in the aging femur, there remains a dense sensory and sympathetic innervation of the periosteum. In cortical bone, sensory and sympathetic nerve fibers are largely confined to vascularized Haversian canals and while there is no significant decline in the density of sensory fibers, there was a 75% reduction in sympathetic nerve fibers in the aging vs. adult cortical bone. In contrast, in the bone marrow the overall density/unit area of both sensory and sympathetic nerve fibers appeared to remain largely unchanged across the lifespan. The preferential preservation of sensory nerve fibers suggests that even as bone itself undergoes a marked decline with age, the nociceptors that detect injury and signal skeletal pain remain relatively intact.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||13|
|State||Published - Sep 1 2018|
- genetic disorders
ASJC Scopus subject areas