Clearing method for 3-dimensional immunofluorescence of osteoarthritic subchondral human bone reveals peripheral cholinergic nerves (Équipe Berenbaum)

01 - Juin - 2020

Alice Courties, Morgane Belle, Simge Senay, Adeline Cambon-Binder, Alain Sautet, Alain Chédotal, Francis Berenbaum, Jérémie Sellam

Sci Rep. 2020;10(1):8852

The cholinergic system plays a major anti-inflammatory role in many diseases through acetylcholine (Ach) release after vagus nerve stimulation. Osteoarthritis (OA) is associated with local low-grade inflammation, but the regulatory mechanisms are unclear. Local Ach release could have anti-inflammatory activity since articular cells express Ach receptors involved in inflammatory responses. Using the 3DISCO clearing protocol that allows whole-sample 3-dimensional (3D) analysis, we cleared human OA cartilage-subchondral bone samples to search for cholinergic nerve fibres able to produce Ach locally. We analysed 3 plugs of knee cartilage and subchondral bone from 3 OA patients undergoing arthroplasty. We found no nerves in the superficial and intermediate articular cartilage layers, as evidenced by the lack of Peripherin staining (a peripheral nerves marker). Conversely, peripheral nerves were found in the deepest layer of cartilage and in subchondral bone. Some nerves in the subchondral bone samples were cholinergic because they coexpressed peripherin and choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), a specific marker of cholinergic nerves. However, no cholinergic nerves were found in the cartilage layers. It is therefore feasible to clear human bone to perform 3D immunofluorescence. Human OA subchondral bone is innervated by cholinergic fibres, which may regulate local inflammation through local Ach release.

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