Publications by authors named "Takafumi Sakuma"

14 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Effect of Atezolizumab plus Bevacizumab in Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma Harboring Mutation in Early Clinical Experience.

J Cancer 2022 16;13(8):2656-2661. Epub 2022 May 16.

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Nihon University School of Medicine, 30-1 Oyaguchi-Kamicho, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo 173-8610, Japan.

Atezolizumab plus bevacizumab (ATZ/BV) treatment is a combined immunotherapy consisting of immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) and anti-vascular endothelial growth factor monoclonal antibody, which has brought a major paradigm shift in the treatment of unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Gain-of-function mutation of contributes to resistance of ICI monotherapy through the framework of non-T-cell-inflamed tumor microenvironment. However, whether mutation renders resistance to ATZ/BV similar to ICI monotherapy remains to be elucidated. In this study, a liquid biopsy sample in plasma of 33 patients with HCC treated with ATZ/BV was subjected to droplet digital PCR for detecting hotspot mutations at the exon 3 of locus. A total of eight patients (24.2%) exhibited at least one mutation. The objective response rate (ORR) in patients with wild-type (WT) and mutant (MT) was 8.0% and 12.5%, respectively, and the disease control rate (DCR) was 68.0% and 87.5%, respectively. No significant difference in both ORR and DCR has been observed between the two groups. The median progression-free survival in patients with WT and MT was 6.6 and 7.6 months, respectively (not statistically significant). Similarly, no significant difference in overall survival has been observed between patients with WT and MT (13.6 vs. 12.3 months). In conclusion, the treatment effect of ATZ/BV in patients with HCC with MT was comparable to those patients with WT . These results implicate that BV added to ATZ might improve immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment caused by mutation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7150/jca.71494DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9174847PMC
May 2022

Liver biopsy technique in the era of genomic cancer therapies: a single-center retrospective analysis.

Int J Clin Oncol 2022 Jun 15. Epub 2022 Jun 15.

Department of Medical Oncology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.

Background: With the evolution of personalized medicine in the field of oncology, which includes optimal treatment selection using next-generation sequencing-based companion diagnostic systems and tumor-agnostic treatments according to common biomarkers, a liver tumor biopsy technique that can obtain a sufficient specimen volume must be established. The current study aimed to evaluate the safety and availability of a liver tumor biopsy technique with multiple puncture sites made using a coaxial introducer needle and embolization with gelatin sponge particles.

Methods: Patients with primary or metastatic liver cancer who underwent liver tumor biopsies with puncture tract embolization using gelatin sponge (Spongel) from October 2019 to September 2020 were included in the study. The complication and diagnostic rates were evaluated, and whether the specimen volume was sufficient for Foundation CDx was investigated.

Results: In total, 96 patients were enrolled in this analysis. The median total number of puncture times per patient was 3 (range 1-8). The pathological diagnostic rate was 79.2%. Using the FoundationOne CDx, specimens with a sufficient volume required for genomic medicine were collected in 84.9% of patients. The incidence rate of bleeding was 4.2% (n = 4), and only one patient presented with major bleeding requiring transfusion.

Conclusions: Liver biopsy with puncture tract embolization using a gelatin sponge may be safe and effective for collecting specimens with a volume sufficient for modern cancer treatments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10147-022-02195-9DOI Listing
June 2022

A diet-induced murine model for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease with obesity and insulin resistance that rapidly develops steatohepatitis and fibrosis.

Lab Invest 2022 May 28. Epub 2022 May 28.

Department of Gastroenterology, Chiba University, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba, 260-8677, Japan.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has become the leading cause of chronic liver disease worldwide. Patients with NAFLD often suffer steatohepatitis, which can progress to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The presence of visceral obesity or type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a major risk factor and potential therapeutic target for NAFLD. The establishment of animal models with these metabolic comorbidities and with the rapid progression of the disease is needed for developing treatments for NAFLD but remains to be archived. In the present study, KK-A mice, widely used as T2DM models, or C57BL6 mice were fed a high-fat, high-fructose, and high-cholesterol diet supplemented with cholic acid (NAFLD diet). The KK-A mice fed a NAFLD diet exhibited remarkable obesity and insulin resistance. A prominent accumulation of triglycerides and cholesterol in the liver was observed at 4 weeks. These mice developed steatohepatitis at 4 weeks and fibrosis at 12 weeks. In contrast, C57BL6 mice fed a NAFLD diet remained lean, although they still developed steatohepatitis and fibrosis. In summary, we established a diet-induced murine NAFLD model with the rapid development of steatohepatitis and fibrosis, bearing obesity and insulin resistance. This model could be useful as preclinical models for drug development of NAFLD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41374-022-00807-6DOI Listing
May 2022

Durvalumab with or without tremelimumab combined with particle therapy for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma with macrovascular invasion: protocol for the DEPARTURE phase Ib trial.

BMJ Open 2022 04 8;12(4):e059779. Epub 2022 Apr 8.

National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, Chiba, Japan.

Introduction: Advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with macrovascular invasion (MVI) has the worst prognosis among all phenotypes. This trial aims to evaluate whether treatment with durvalumab, alone or in combination with tremelimumab, plus particle therapy is a safe and synergistically effective treatment in patients with advanced HCC and MVI.

Methods And Analysis: This phase Ib, multicentre (two sites in Japan), open-label, single-arm, investigator-initiated clinical trial will assess durvalumab monotherapy in combination with particle therapy (cohort A) and that of durvalumab plus tremelimumab in combination with particle therapy (cohort B) for patients with advanced HCC with MVI. Cohort A will receive 1500 mg durvalumab every 4 weeks. Cohort B will receive 1500 mg durvalumab every 4 weeks in principle and 300 mg tremelimumab only on day 1 of the first cycle. Carbon-ion radiotherapy will be administered after day 8 of the first cycle. The primary endpoints are rates of any and severe adverse events, including dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs); secondary endpoints are overall survival, 6-month survival, objective response, 6-month progression-free survival and time to progression. Patients are initially enrolled into cohort A. If cohort A treatment is confirmed to be tolerated (ie, no DLT in three patients or one DLT in six patients), the trial proceeds to enrol more patients into cohort B. Similarly, if cohort B treatment is confirmed to be tolerated (ie, no DLT in three patients or one DLT in six patients), a total of 15 patients will be enrolled into cohort B.

Ethics And Dissemination: This study was approved by the ethics committees of the two participating institutions (Chiba University Hospital and National Institutes for Quantum (approval number: 2020040) and Radiological Science and Technology, QST Hospital (approval number: C20-001)). Participants will be required to provide written informed consent. Trial results will be reported in a peer-reviewed journal publication.

Trial Registration Number: jRCT2031210046.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2021-059779DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8995959PMC
April 2022

Evolution of Survival Impact of Molecular Target Agents in Patients with Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma.

Liver Cancer 2022 Jan 6;11(1):48-60. Epub 2021 Dec 6.

Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.

Background And Aims: The prognosis of patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is expected to improve as multiple molecular target agents (MTAs) are now available. However, the impact of the availability of sequential MTAs has not been fully verified yet.

Approach And Results: We retrospectively collected the data on the whole clinical course of 877 patients who received any MTAs as first-line systemic therapy for advanced HCC between June 2009 and March 2019. The study population was divided into 3 groups according to the date of first-line MTA administration (period 1: 2009-2012, = 267; period 2: 2013-2016, = 352; period 3: 2017-2019, = 258). Then, we compared the number of MTAs used, overall survival (OS), and MTA treatment duration among the 3 groups. Analysis was also performed separately for advanced-stage and nonadvanced-stage HCC. The proportion of patients who received multiple MTAs was remarkably increased over time (1.1%, 10.2%, and 42.6% in periods 1, 2, and 3, respectively, < 0.001). The median OS times were prolonged to 10.4, 11.3, and 15.2 months in periods 1, 2, and 3, respectively ( = 0.016). Similarly, the MTA treatment durations were extended (2.7, 3.2, and 6.6 months in periods 1, 2, and 3, respectively; < 0.001). We confirmed that the correlation between OS and MTA treatment duration was strengthened (period 1: 0.395, period 2: 0.505, and period 3: 0.667). All these trends were pronounced in the patients with advanced-stage HCC but limited in the patients with nonadvanced-stage HCC.

Conclusions: The availability of multiple MTAs had steadily improved the prognosis of patients with advanced HCC patients, particularly advanced-stage HCC patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000519868DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8820147PMC
January 2022

Exploring microsatellite instability in patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma and its tumor microenvironment.

JGH Open 2021 Nov 1;5(11):1266-1274. Epub 2021 Oct 1.

Department of Diagnostic Pathology, Graduate School of Medicine Chiba University Chiba Japan.

Background And Aim: Immune checkpoint inhibitors and their combination with other agents have recently been available in advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Hence, a thorough understanding of the tumor microenvironment based on tumor samples is yet to be achieved. This study aimed to explore the tumor microenvironment in advanced HCC in terms of microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) by using tumor samples from advanced HCC patients eligible for systemic therapy.

Methods: MSI-H was assessed by polymerase chain reaction, and the expression of mismatch repair proteins, PD-L1, CD8, VEGF, and HLA-class1 was evaluated by immunohistochemistry. Whole-exome sequencing was performed for MSI-H tumor samples.

Results: Of 50 patients, one (2.0%) was confirmed with MSI-H. In the MSI-H advanced HCC tumor, a high tumor mutation burden, infiltration of CD8 lymphocytes, and low expression of VEGF were identified. Although PD-L1 expression was negative, there was shrinkage of tumor following pembrolizumab. However, another tumor nonresponsive to pembrolizumab was present simultaneously. Checking the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database, we found a similar case to this patient. The TCGA case had unique gene features of miR-21 and miR-155 overexpression and hypermethylation of the gene.

Conclusion: We identified a very small number of MSI-H cases in HCC using one tumor biopsy sample for each patient with advanced HCC. In addition, epigenetic aberrations possibly lead to MSI-H in HCC patients. Since different HCC clones might coexist in the liver, sampling from multiple tumors should be considered to clarify the true proportion of MSI-H in HCC and to analyze tumor microenvironments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jgh3.12660DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8593775PMC
November 2021

Posttreatment after Lenvatinib in Patients with Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma.

Liver Cancer 2021 Sep 20;10(5):473-484. Epub 2021 Apr 20.

Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.

Background: There is no standard posttreatment for patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in whom lenvatinib therapy has failed. This study aimed to investigate rates of migration to posttreatment after lenvatinib and to explore candidates for second-line agents in the patients with failed lenvatinib therapy.

Methods: We retrospectively collected data on patients with advanced HCC who received lenvatinib as the first-line agent in 7 institutions.

Results: Overall survival and progression-free survival (PFS) of 178 patients who received lenvatinib as the first-line agent were 13.3 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 11.5-15.2) and 6.7 months (95% CI, 5.6-7.8), respectively. Sixty-nine of 151 patients (45.7%) who discontinued lenvatinib moved on to posttreatment. The migration rates from lenvatinib to the second-line agent and from the second-line agent to the third-line agent were 41.7 and 44.4%, respectively. Based on multivariate analysis, response to lenvatinib (complete or partial response according to modified RECIST) and discontinuation of lenvatinib due to radiological progression, as well as male were associated with a significantly higher probability of migration to posttreatment after lenvatinib. On the other hand, alpha-fetoprotein levels of 400 ng/mL or higher was correlated with a significantly lower probability of migration to posttreatment after lenvatinib. Of 63 patients who received second-line systemic therapy, 53 (84.2%) were administered sorafenib. PFS, objective response rate (ORR), and disease control rate (DCR) for sorafenib treatment were 1.8 months (95% CI, 0.6-3.0), 1.8%, and 20.8%, respectively. According to the Cox regression hazard model, Child-Pugh class B significantly contributed to shorter PFS. PFS, ORR, and DCR of 22 patients who received regorafenib after lenvatinib in any lines were 3.2 months (range, 1.5-4.9 months), 13.6%, and 36.3%, respectively. Similarly, PFS, ORR, and DCR of 17 patients who received regorafenib after lenvatinib in the third-line (after sorafenib) were 3.8 months (range, 1.1-6.5 months), 17.6%, and 41.2%, respectively.

Conclusion: Sorafenib may not be a candidate for use as a posttreatment agent after lenvatinib, according to the results of the present study. Regorafenib has the potential to become an appropriate posttreatment agent after lenvatinib.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000515552DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8527907PMC
September 2021

A Clinical Trial Evaluating the Usefulness of Tailored Antimicrobial Prophylaxis Using Rectal-culture Screening Media Prior to Transrectal Prostate Biopsy: A Multicenter, Randomized Controlled Trial.

Acta Med Okayama 2021 ;75(5):663-667

Okayama City General Medical Center.

The aim of this report is to introduce an on-going, multicenter, randomized controlled trial to evaluate whether tailored antimicrobial prophylaxis guided by rectal culture screening prevents acute bacterial prostatitis following transrectal prostate biopsy (TRPB). Patients will be randomized into an intervention or non-intervention group; tazobactam-piperacillin or levofloxacin will be prophylactically administered according to the results of rectal culture prior to TRPB in the intervention group whereas levofloxacin will be routinely given in the non-intervention group. The primary endpoint is the occurrence rate of acute bacterial prostatitis after TRPB. Recruitment begins in April, 2021 and the target total sample size is 5,100 participants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18926/AMO/62782DOI Listing
February 2022

Serum Angiopoietin 2 acts as a diagnostic and prognostic biomarker in hepatocellular carcinoma.

J Cancer 2021 5;12(9):2694-2701. Epub 2021 Mar 5.

Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, 1-8-1 Inohana, Chuo-ku, Chiba 260-8670, Japan.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is typically accompanied by abundant arterial blood flow. Although angiogenic growth factors such as Angiopoietin 2 (Ang2) play a central role in tumor angiogenesis in HCC, the role of serum Ang2 as a biomarker in HCC remains unclear. In this study, we aimed to investigate the potential of Ang2 as a diagnostic and prognostic biomarker in HCC using a sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The median Ang2 levels in controls (n=20), chronic liver disease patients (n=98), and HCC patients (n=275) were 1.58, 2.33, and 3.53 ng/mL, respectively. The optimal cut-off value of Ang2 was determined as 3.5 ng/mL by receiver operating curve analysis. The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of Ang2 for HCC detection were 50.9, 83.7, and 59.5%, respectively. Spearman's rank correlation coefficient analysis demonstrated only a weak correlation between Ang2 serum levels and alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) or des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin (DCP) serum levels. The diagnostic value of Ang2 was comparable to those of other existing markers. In addition, 24 out of 73 patients with normal AFP and DCP levels (32.9%) demonstrated abnormally high Ang2 levels (≥3.5 ng/mL). Although no significant difference in overall survival was found between Ang2 and Ang2 patients with curative ablation therapy, recurrence-free survival (RFS) in Ang2 patients was observed to be significantly shorter than those in Ang2 patients. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that high serum Ang2 levels (≥3.5 ng/mL) and the presence of multiple tumors were poor prognostic factors. In conclusion, our findings indicate that serum Ang2 is a potential novel biomarker for both diagnosis and prognosis in HCC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7150/jca.56436DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8040723PMC
March 2021

Acquisition of mesenchymal-like phenotypes and overproduction of angiogenic factors in lenvatinib-resistant hepatocellular carcinoma cells.

Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2021 04 3;549:171-178. Epub 2021 Mar 3.

Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.

Lenvatinib is one of the first-line drugs for patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and widely used around the world. However, the mechanisms underlying resistance to lenvatinib remain unclear. In this study, we conducted characteristic analyses of lenvatinib-resistant HCC cells. Lenvatinib-resistant HCC cell lines were established by exposure to serially escalated doses of lenvatinib over 2 months. The biological characteristics of these cells were examined by in vitro assays. To investigate the cytokine profile of lenvatinib-resistant HCC cells, the supernatant derived from lenvatinib-resistant Huh7 cells was subjected to nitrocellulose membrane-based sandwich immunoassay. Both activation of the MAPK/MEK/ERK signaling pathway and upregulation of epithelial mesenchymal transition markers were observed in lenvatinib-resistant cells. Concordant with these findings, proliferation and invasion abilities were enhanced in these cells compared with control cells. Screening of a cytokine array spotted with 105 different antibodies to human cytokines enabled us to identify 16 upregulated cytokines in lenvatinib-resistant cells. Among them, 3 angiogenic cytokines: vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), platelet-derived growth factor-AA (PDGF-AA), and angiogenin, were increased significantly. Conditioned medium from lenvatinib-resistant cells accelerated tube formation of human umbilical vein cells. In conclusion, lenvatinib-resistant HCC cells were characterized by enhanced proliferation and invasion abilities. These findings might contribute to the establishment of new combination therapies with lenvatinib.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbrc.2021.02.097DOI Listing
April 2021

Propofol midazolam for sedation during radiofrequency ablation in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.

JGH Open 2021 Feb 22;5(2):273-279. Epub 2020 Dec 22.

Departmetn of Anesthesiology, Graduate School of Medicine Chiba University Chiba Japan.

Background And Aim: Standardization of the sedation protocol during radiofrequency ablation (RFA) in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is needed. This randomized, single-blind, investigator-initiated trial compared clinical outcomes during and after RFA using propofol and midazolam, respectively, in patients with HCC.

Methods: Few- and small-nodule HCC patients (≤3 nodules and ≤3 cm) were randomly assigned to either propofol or midazolam. Patient satisfaction was assessed using a 100-mm visual analog scale (VAS) (1 mm = not at all satisfied, 100 mm = completely satisfied). Sedation recovery rates 1, 2, 3, and 4 h after RFA were evaluated based on Modified Observer's Assessment of Alertness/Sedation (MOAA/S) scores; full recovery was defined as a MOAA/S score of 5.

Results: Between July 2013 and September 2017, 143 patients with HCC were enrolled, and 135 patients were randomly assigned to the treatment group. Compared with midazolam, propofol exhibited similar median procedural satisfaction (propofol: 73.1 mm, midazolam: 76.9 mm, = 0.574). Recovery rates 1 and 2 h after RFA were higher in the propofol group than in the midazolam group. Meanwhile, recovery rates observed 3 and 4 h after RFA were similar in the two groups. The safety profiles during and after RFA were almost identical in the two groups.

Conclusion: Patient satisfaction was almost identical in patients receiving propofol and midazolam sedation during RFA. Propofol sedation resulted in reduced recovery time compared with midazolam sedation in patients with HCC. The safety profiles of both propofol and midazolam sedation during and after RFA were acceptable.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jgh3.12483DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7857294PMC
February 2021

Chronic expanding hematoma in the chest: A case report.

Exp Ther Med 2018 Jun 24;15(6):5457-5460. Epub 2018 Apr 24.

Division of Respiratory Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8575, Japan.

Chronic expanding hematoma (CEH) is a rare disease that is usually present as a large solitary pulmonary nodule. CEHs are slow growing, but processes underlying their development remain unknown. The present study herein reports the case of a 76-year-old male patient with CEH and discusses a number of CEH cases published in the literature. The majority of these previously described patients were Asians. The CEH in the present case was not a successfully resected one, but the patient's clinical course provided information concerning the natural history of the disease. During the clinical course, the patient underwent several chest computed tomography scans. For the present case report, the doubling time and volume change of the mass was calculated, which revealed that the lesion had an inconstant growth rate and that its onset was between 8.2-11.0 years before the patient succumbed to this disease. Accumulation of knowledge about this rare disease will help to elucidate it further.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3892/etm.2018.6091DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5958822PMC
June 2018

Comparison of CatWalk analysis and von Frey testing for pain assessment in a rat model of nerve crush plus inflammation.

Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 2013 Jul;38(15):E919-24

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Inohana, Chuo-ku, Chiba, Japan.

Study Design: Assessment of pain-related behavior and immunohistology of the dorsal root ganglion in a rat model.

Objective: To investigate pain-related behavior in a rat model of nerve crush plus inflammation using the CatWalk system.

Summary Of Background Data: A definitive method for evaluating animal models of lumbar disease has not been established. Von Frey testing has often been used in this type of study, but the reliability remains in question. The CatWalk system is a computer-assisted apparatus for analyzing gait that provides an automated way to assess gait function during pain. However, there have been few reports using this system for models of lumbar disease.

Methods: Fourteen rats were divided into 2 groups: a treatment group and a sham group. For the treatment group, nucleus pulposus was applied to the sciatic nerve and the sciatic nerve was pinched. Two different methods for assessment of pain-related behavior, von Frey testing and CatWalk analysis, were used before surgery and at 4 and 7 days after surgery. Immunohistochemistry was used to examine calcitonin gene-related peptide expression in L4 to L6 dorsal root ganglia.

Results: No significant differences were found between the treatment and sham control groups using von Frey testing. However, significant differences in 4 parameters were found between the 2 groups using the CatWalk system (P < 0.05). The proportion of calcitonin gene-related peptide-immunoreactive neurons was higher in the treatment group than in the control group (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that the CatWalk system is useful for the measurement of pain-related behavioral change in our rat model in which nociception was indicated at a cellular level. Although further studies are needed, we think that this system is a valid alternative method for the evaluation of models of lumbar disease in rodents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/BRS.0b013e318297bfb6DOI Listing
July 2013

Investigation of dichotomizing sensory nerve fibers projecting to the lumbar multifidus muscles and intervertebral disc or facet joint or sacroiliac joint in rats.

Spine (Phila Pa 1976) 2012 Apr;37(7):557-62

School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.

Study Design: Immunohistological analysis of dichotomizing sensory nerve fibers projecting to the lumbar multifidus muscles and intervertebral disc (IVD), facet joint (FJ), or sacroiliac joint (SIJ) in rats.

Objective: To elucidate dichotomizing sensory nerve fibers projecting to the lumbar multifidus muscles and to IVDs, FJs, or SIJs.

Summary Of Background Data: Clinically, the origin of low back pain remains unknown. Multiple studies have identified lumbar muscles, IVDs, FJs, and SIJs as sources of low back pain. Pain may originate directly from lumbar muscles or be referred from the spine, or both. Dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons with dichotomizing axons have been reported in several species and are thought to be related to referred pain.

Methods: We used 2 neurotracers, 1,1'-dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethyl-indocarbocyanine perchlorate (DiI) and fluorogold (FG), in this double-labeling study involving 30 Sprague Dawley rats. DiI was applied to lumbar multifidus muscles in all rats. Simultaneously, FG was applied to the anterior left portion of L5-L6 IVDs in the IVD group (n = 10), to the left L5-L6 FJs in the FJ group (n = 10), and to the left SIJs in the SIJ group (n = 10). Fourteen days after surgery, left DRGs from L1 to L6 were harvested, sectioned, and observed under a fluorescence microscope.

Results: We verified the existence of double-labeled DRG neurons (i.e., dichotomizing sensory nerve fibers) projecting to lumbar multifidus muscles and to IVDs, FJs, or SIJs, depending on the group. The proportion of double-labeled cells in all DiI-labeled DRG neurons was higher in the FJ group (6.8%) and SIJ group (7.1%) than in the IVD group (3.1%) (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: Our results document the presence of dichotomizing sensory nerve fibers projecting to lumbar multifidus muscles and to IVDs, FJs, and SIJs. Referred low back muscle pain may reflect disorders of lumbar posterior structures, such as FJs and SIJs, rather than disorders of lumbar anterior structures, such as IVDs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/BRS.0b013e3182293178DOI Listing
April 2012
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