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Volume 10 , Issue 3
Summer 1996

Pages 217-231

Neural structures within the sheep temporomandibular joint


PMID: 9161227

To better understand pathologic processes associated with arthritis of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), detailed information on the innervation of TMJ tissues in normal as well as arthritic joints is needed. The aim of this study was to describe the normal innervation of the sheep TMJ in preparation for using this animal as a model for the study of the effects of arthritis on joint innervation. The macroscopic and microscopic appearance plus the distribution of neural structures within the TMJ were examined using fluorescence histochemistry (glyoxylic acid), immunohistochemistry (calcitonin gene-related peptide), silver, and gold chloride techniques. Joints from 10 mature merino sheep were studied. Calcitonin gene-related peptide-immunoreactive nerve fibers were found in the capsule and the synovial membrane, but not in the disc. Nerve bundles and single nerve fibers in the capsule, synovial membrane, and the peripheral 2 to 3 mm of the disc were stained by glyoxylic acid. Ruffini, paciniform-type, and Golgi organ nerve endings plus free nerve endings were located in the capsule, with the highest density of nerve endings occurring at the site of attachment of the disc to the capusle. The highest density of neural structures (using gold chloride) was in the posterior part of the joint. The highest density of autnomic fibers (using glyoxylic acid) was in the anterior capusle. The highest density of sensory fibers (using calcitonin gene-related peptide) was in the synovial and subsynovial tissues of the anterior capsule. These results confirm the existence of autonomic and sensory nerves in the capsule, synovial membrane, and peripheral disc in healthy adult sheep.

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