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Bone & Joint Research
Vol. 11, Issue 7 | Pages 439 - 452
13 Jul 2022
Sun Q Li G Liu D Xie W Xiao W Li Y Cai M

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a highly prevalent degenerative joint disorder characterized by joint pain and physical disability. Aberrant subchondral bone induces pathological changes and is a major source of pain in OA. In the subchondral bone, which is highly innervated, nerves have dual roles in pain sensation and bone homeostasis regulation. The interaction between peripheral nerves and target cells in the subchondral bone, and the interplay between the sensory and sympathetic nervous systems, allow peripheral nerves to regulate subchondral bone homeostasis. Alterations in peripheral innervation and local transmitters are closely related to changes in nociception and subchondral bone homeostasis, and affect the progression of OA. Recent literature has substantially expanded our understanding of the physiological and pathological distribution and function of specific subtypes of neurones in bone. This review summarizes the types and distribution of nerves detected in the tibial subchondral bone, their cellular and molecular interactions with bone cells that regulate subchondral bone homeostasis, and their role in OA pain. A comprehensive understanding and further investigation of the functions of peripheral innervation in the subchondral bone will help to develop novel therapeutic approaches to effectively prevent OA, and alleviate OA pain.

Cite this article: Bone Joint Res 2022;11(7):439–452.