Langevin Lab Research
Connective Tissue Mechanotransduction
Our research group has been a leader in the investigation of fibroblast responses to mechaincal stimulation in connective tissue. We have described a novel response of loose connective tissue to the mechanical stimulation caused by both tissue stretch and tissue winding during acupuncture needle rotation. We found that, with both types of mechanical stimulation, connective tissue fibroblasts respond rapidly (within minutes) with extensive cytoskeletal remodeling followed by differential expression of select genes. These findings suggest that tissue stretch may trigger dynamic changes in connective tissue tension. In addition, we showed that fibroblasts within loose connective tissue form a body-wide cellular network with extensive cell-to-cell contacts. Regulation of tissue tension of "pre-stress" may influence potentially important functions of this cellular network including cell-to-cell signaling.
The animal models that we have developed provide a unique opportunity to understand a fundamental response of connective tissue to mechanical stimulation. The dynamic cellular responses that we have characterized may occur physiologically in response to spontaneous stretching, as well as during active or passive tissue stretching techniques that are key components of exercise programs, physical therapy and many CAM modalities.
Acupuncture and Human Low back pain
We are investigating a local tissue response to acupuncture needling which is traditionally thought to be abnormal in the presence of low back pain. To date, most efforts aimed at elucidating the mechanism of acupuncture have focused on the nervous system. Neural mechanisms of acupuncture, however, do not readily explain traditonal Chinese medicine concepts such as acupuncture points and meridians. In this context, our recent findings suggesting involvement of connective tissue in acupuncture may be an important link reconciling traditional and scientific views of acupuncture.
Effect of tissue stretch on pain and inflammation
Connective tissue plays an increasingly recognized role in chronic musculoskeletal pain. We are using in vivo rodent and porcine models to investigate the effect of tissue stretch, as well as movement restriction, on connective tissue inflammation and pain sensitivity.