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Clinical data provide evidence of high level of co-morbidity among genitourinary and gastrointestinal disorders characterized by chronic pelvic pain. The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that colonic inflammation can impact the function of the urinary bladder via activation of TRPV1 signaling pathways followed by alterations in gene and protein expression of substance P (SP) and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) in sensory neurons and in the bladder. Inflammation was induced by intracolonic instillation of trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS, 12.5mg/kg), and desensitization of TRPV1 receptors was evoked by intracolonic resiniferatoxin (RTX, 10(-)(7)M). mRNA and protein concentrations of CGRP and SP were measured at 3, 5 and 30 days. RTX instillation in the colon caused 3-fold up-regulation of SP mRNA in the urinary bladder at day 5 (n=7, p ≤ 0.05) followed by 35-fold increase at day 30 (n=5, p ≤ 0.05). Likewise, TNBS colitis triggered 15.8-fold up-regulation of SP mRNA 1 month after TNBS (n=5, p ≤ 0.05). Desensitization of colonic TRPV1 receptors prior to TNBS abolished SP increase in the urinary bladder. RTX led to 4.3-fold increase of CGRP mRNA at day 5 (n=7, p ≤ 0.05 to control) in the bladder followed by 28-fold increase at day 30 post-RTX (n=4, p ≤ 0.05). Colitis did not alter CGRP concentration during acute phase; however, at day 30 mRNA level was increased by 17.8 ± 6.9-fold (n=5, p ≤ 0.05) in parallel with 4-fold increase in CGRP protein (n=5, p ≤ 0.01) in the detrusor. Protein concentration of CGRP in the spinal cord was diminished by 45-65% (p ≤ 0.05) during colitis. RTX pretreatment did not affect CGRP concentration in the urinary bladder; however, it caused a reduction in CGRP release from lumbosacral DRG neurons during acute phase (3 and 5 days post-TNBS). Our results clearly demonstrate that colonic inflammation triggers the release of pro-inflammatory neuropeptides SP and CGRP in the urinary bladder via activation of TRPV1 signaling mechanisms enunciating the neurogenic nature of pelvic organ cross-sensitization.

Early activation of transcription factors is one of the epigenetic mechanisms contributing to the induction and maintenance of chronic pain states. Previous studies identified the changes in a number of nociception-related genes, such as calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), substance P (SP), and brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) in the pelvic organs after transient colonic inflammation. The gene and protein expression of these neuropeptides could be modulated by transcription factors Methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 (Mecp2) and cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB). In this study, we aimed to evaluate time-dependent changes in the expression levels of Mecp2 and CREB in the lumbosacral (LS) spinal cord and sensory ganglia after inflammation-induced pelvic pain in rat. Adult Sprague-Dawley rats were treated with 2,4,6-trinitrobenzenesulfonic acid (TNBS) to induce transient colonic inflammation. LS (L6-S2) spinal cord segments and respective dorsal root ganglias (DRGs) were isolated from control and experimental animals at 1, 2, 6, 24 h and 3 days post-TNBS treatment. Immunohistochemical (IHC) labeling and Western blotting experiments were performed to assess the expression of Mecp2, CREB and their phosphorylated forms. Total Mecp2 expression, but not phosphorylated p-Mecp2 (pS421Mecp2) expression was detected in the cells of the spinal dorsal horn under control conditions. Colonic inflammation triggered a significant decrease in the number of Mecp2-expressing neurons in parallel with elevated numbers of pS421Mecp2-expressing cells at 2 h and 6 h post-TNBS. The majority of Mecp2-positive cells (80 ± 6%) co-expressed CREB. TNBS treatment caused a transient up-regulation of CREB-expressing cells at 1 h post-TNBS only. The number of cells expressing phosphorylated CREB (pS133CREB) did not change at 1 h and 2 h post-TNBS, but was down-regulated by three folds at 6 h post-TNBS. Analysis of DRG sections revealed that the number of Mecp2-positive neurons was up-regulated by TNBS treatment, reaching three-fold increase at 2 h post-TNBS, and eight-fold increase at 6 h post-TNBS (p ≤ 0.05 to control). These data showed early changes in Mecp2 and CREB expression in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord and sensory ganglia after colonic inflammation, suggesting a possible contribution Mecp2 and CREB signaling in the development of visceral hyperalgesia and pelvic pain following peripheral inflammation.

Abstract Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) develop a variety of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). We previously characterized a murine model of neurogenic bladder dysfunction induced by a neurotropic strain of a coronavirus. In the present study, we further study the role of long-lasting neurodegeneration on the development of neurogenic bladder dysfunction in mice with corona-virus induced encephalitis (CIE). Long-term follow up study revealed three phenotypes of neurodegenerative symptom development: recovery (REC group), chronic progression (C-PRO group) and chronic disease with relapsing-remitting episodes (C-RELAP group). The levels of IL-1β in REC group, IL-10 in C-RELAP group, and IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10 and TNF-α in C-PRO group were diminished in the brain. The levels of TNF-α in REC group and INF-γ, IL-2, TGF-β and TNF-α in the C-PRO group were also diminished in the urinary bladder. Mice in C-RELAP group showed a delayed recovery of voiding function. In vitro contractility studies determined a decreased basal detrusor tone and reduced amplitude of nerve-mediated contractions in C-RELAP group, whereas C-PRO group had elevated muscle-mediated contractions. In conclusion, mice with CIE developed three phenotypes of neurologic impairment mimicking different types of MS progression in humans and showed differential mechanisms driving neurogenic bladder dysfunction.

Abstract Background Previously published results from our laboratory identified a mechano-gated two-pore domain potassium channel, TREK-1, as a main mechanosensor in the smooth muscle of the human urinary bladder. One of the limitations of in vitro experiments on isolated human detrusor included inability to evaluate in vivo effects of TREK-1 on voiding function, as the channel is also expressed in the nervous system, and may modulate micturition via neural pathways. Therefore, in the present study, we aimed to assess the role of TREK-1 channel in bladder function and voiding patterns in vivo by using TREK-1 knockout (KO) mice. Methods Adult C57BL/6 J wild-type (WT, N = 32) and TREK-1 KO (N = 33) mice were used in this study. The overall phenotype and bladder function were evaluated by gene and protein expression of TREK-1 channel, in vitro contractile experiments using detrusor strips in response to stretch and pharmacological stimuli, and cystometry in unanesthetized animals. Results TREK-1 KO animals had an elevated basal muscle tone and enhanced spontaneous activity in the detrusor without detectable changes in bladder morphology/histology. Stretch applied to isolated detrusor strips increased the amplitude of spontaneous contractions by 109% in the TREK-1 KO group in contrast to a 61% increase in WT mice (p ≤ 0.05 to respective baseline for each group). The detrusor strips from TREK-1 KO mice also generated more contractile force in response to electric field stimulation and high potassium concentration in comparison to WT group (p ≤ 0.05 for both tests). However, cystometric recordings from TREK-1 KO mice revealed a significant increase in the duration of the intermicturition interval, enhanced bladder capacity and increased number of non-voiding contractions in comparison to WT mice. Conclusions Our results provide evidence that global down-regulation of TREK-1 channels has dual effects on detrusor contractility and micturition patterns in vivo. The observed differences are likely due to expression of TREK-1 channel not only in detrusor myocytes but also in afferent and efferent neural pathways involved in regulation of micturition which may underly the “mixed” voiding phenotype in TREK-1 KO mice.


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9 References

Coordination between the brainstem and the cortex helps to ensure that urination occurs at an appropriate time.

The aim of this study was to measure physiologic and psychologic stress reactivity in women with overactive bladder (OAB). There is growing evidence in preclinical models that central nervous system dysregulation, particularly in response to psychological stress, may contribute to lower urinary tract symptoms in women with OAB.

Neuro-tracing approach is a great option to study innervation of the visceral organs including the kidneys. Important factors contributing to the success of this technique include the choice of a neuro-tracer, and delivery methods to result in successful labeling of peripheral sensory and motor ganglia. The neuro-tracer is usually applied directly to the kidney accessed via a surgical opening of the abdominal wall under deep anesthesia. A series of local microinjections of the dye are performed followed by a wound closure, and recovery period from the surgery. An extra care should be taken to prevent neuro-tracer spillage and accidental labeling of the surrounding organs during injections of the dye. Retrograde neuro-tracers like Fast Blue do not cross synapses, therefore, only neuronal bodies located within dorsal root ganglion neurons and major peripheral ganglia will be labeled by this approach. Retrogradely labeled peripheral neurons could be freshly isolated and dissociated for electrophysiological recordings and biochemical analyses (gene and protein expression), whereas the whole fixed ganglia could be sectioned to undergo immunohisto- and immunocytochemical targeted staining.


Protein kinase C (PKC) is expressed in many tissues and organs including the urinary bladder, however, its role in bladder physiology and pathophysiology is still evolving. The aim of this review was to evaluate available evidence on the involvement of PKC in regulation of detrusor contractility, muscle tone of the bladder wall, spontaneous contractile activity and bladder function under physiological and pathophysiological conditions.


This is a non-systematic review of the published literature which summarizes the available animal and human data on the role of PKC signaling in the urinary bladder under different physiological and pathophysiological conditions. A wide PubMed search was performed including the combination of the following keywords: “urinary bladder”, “PKC”, “detrusor contractility”, “bladder smooth muscle”, “detrusor relaxation”, “peak force”, “detrusor underactivity”, “partial bladder outlet obstruction”, “voltage-gated channels”, “bladder nerves”, “PKC inhibitors”, “PKC activators”. Retrieved articles were individually screened for the relevance to the topic of this review with 91 citations being selected and included in the data analysis.DiscussionUrinary bladder function includes the ability to store urine at low intravesical pressure followed by a subsequent release of bladder contents due to a rapid phasic contraction that is maintained long enough to ensure complete emptying. This review summarizes the current concepts regarding the potential contribution of PKC to contractility, physiological voiding, and related signaling mechanisms involved in the control of both the storage and emptying phases of the micturition cycle, and in dysfunctional voiding. Previous studies linked PKC activation exclusively with an increase in generation of the peak force of smooth muscle contraction, and maximum force generation in the lower urinary tract. More recent data suggests that PKC presents a broader range of effects on urinary bladder function including regulation of storage, emptying, excitability of the detrusor, and bladder innervation.SummaryIn this review, we evaluated the mechanisms of peripheral and local regulation of PKC signaling in the urinary bladder, and their impact on different phases of the micturition cycle under physiological and pathophysiological conditions.


Protein Kinase C (PKC) dysfunction is implicated in a variety of smooth muscle disorders including detrusor overactivity associated with frequency and urgency of micturition. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the modulatory effects of endogenous PKC-dependent pathways on bladder storage and emptying function.


We utilized in vivo cystometry and in vitro organ bath studies using isolated bladder muscle strips (BMS) from rats to measure contractility, intravesical pressure, and voided volume. Both in vitro and in vivo results were statistically analyzed using one-way repeated measures ANOVA between the groups followed by Bonferroni’s post-test, as appropriate (Systat Software Inc., San Jose, CA).


Effects of PKC activators, phorbol-12,13-dibutyrate (PDBu), and phorbol-12,13-myristate (PMA), were concentration-dependent, with high concentrations increasing frequency of micturition, and sensitivity of intramural nerves to electrical field stimulation (EFS), in vitro, while lower concentrations had no effect on BMS sensitivity to EFS. The PKC inhibitors, bisindolylmaleimide1 (Bim-1), (28 nM), and Ro318220 (50 μM) triggered an increase in the number of non-voiding contractions (NVC), and a decrease in the voided volume associated with reduced ability to maintain contractile force upon EFS, but did not affect peak force in vitro. Both low (50 nM) and high PDBu 1 micromolar (1uM) decreased the sensitivity of BMS to carbachol. Application of a low concentration of PDBu inhibited spontaneous contractions, in vitro, and Bim-1-induced NVC, and restored normal voiding frequency during urodynamic recordings in vivo.


In summary, the effects of low PKC stimulation include inhibition of smooth muscle contractile responses, whereas high levels of PKC stimulation increased nerve-mediated contractions in vitro, and micturition contractions in vivo. These results indicate that endogenous PKC signaling displays a concentration-dependent contraction profile in the urinary bladder via both smooth muscle and nerve-mediated pathways.

Patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's often present with lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS, urinary frequency, urgency, nocturia and retention) resulting from damage to the peripheral and central nervous systems. These studies were designed to examine the changes in the function of the bladder that may underlie neurogenic bladder dysfunction using a mouse model of demyelination in the CNS.

Co-morbidity of bladder, bowel, and non-specific pelvic pain symptoms is highly prevalent in women. Little evidence is present on modulation of pelvic pain syndromes by sex hormones, therefore, the objective of this study was to clarify the effects of hormonal fluctuations within the estrous cycle on regulatory neuropeptides in female rats using a model of neurogenic bladder dysfunction. The estrous cycle in female rats (Sprague-Dawley, 230-250 g) was assessed by vaginal smears and weight of uterine horns. Neurogenic bladder dysfunction was induced by a single inflammatory insult to the distal colon. Protein expression of calcitonin gene related peptide (CGRP), substance P (SP), nerve growth factor (NGF), and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the pelvic organs, sensory ganglia and lumbosacral spinal cord was compared in rats in proestrus (high estrogen) vs diestrus (low estrogen). Under normal physiological conditions, concentration of SP and CGRP was similar in the distal colon and urinary bladder during all phases of the estrous cycle, however, acute colitis induced a significant up-regulation of CGRP content in the colon (by 63%) and urinary bladder (by 54%, p≤0.05 to control) of rats in proestrus. These changes were accompanied by a significant diminution of CGRP content in L6-S2 DRG after colonic treatment, likely associated with its release in the periphery. In rats with high estrogen at the time of testing (proestrus), experimental colitis caused a significant up-regulation of BDNF colonic content from 26.1±8.5 pg/ml to 83.4±32.5 pg/ml (N = 7, p≤0.05 to control) and also induced similar effects on BDNF in the urinary bladder which was also up-regulated by 5-fold in rats in proestrus (p≤0.05 to respective control). Our results demonstrate estrous cycle dependent fluctuations of regulatory neuropeptides in the lower urinary tract upon colon-bladder cross-sensitization, which may contribute to pain fluctuations in female patients with neurogenic bladder pain.



Bladder pain of unknown etiology has been associated with co-morbid conditions and functional abnormalities in neighboring pelvic organs. Mechanisms underlying pain co-morbidities include cross-sensitization, which occurs predominantly via convergent neural pathways connecting distinct pelvic organs. Our previous results showed that colonic inflammation caused detrusor instability via activation of transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) signaling pathways, therefore, we aimed to determine whether neurogenic bladder dysfunction can develop in the absence of TRPV1 receptors.


Adult male C57BL/6 wild-type (WT) and TRPV1−/− (knockout) mice were used in this study. Colonic inflammation was induced by intracolonic trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS). The effects of transient colitis on abdominal sensitivity and function of the urinary bladder were evaluated by cystometry, contractility and relaxation of detrusor smooth muscle (DSM) in vitro to various stimuli, gene and protein expression of voltage-gated sodium channels in bladder sensory neurons, and pelvic responses to mechanical stimulation.


Knockout of TRPV1 gene did not eliminate the development of cross-sensitization between the colon and urinary bladder. However, TRPV1−/− mice had prolonged intermicturition interval and increased number of non-voiding contractions at baseline followed by reduced urodynamic responses during active colitis. Contractility of DSM was up-regulated in response to KCl in TRPV1−/− mice with inflamed colon. Application of Rho-kinase inhibitor caused relaxation of DSM in WT but not in TRPV1−/− mice during colonic inflammation. TRPV1−/− mice demonstrated blunted effects of TNBS-induced colitis on expression and function of voltage-gated sodium channels in bladder sensory neurons, and delayed development of abdominal hypersensitivity upon colon-bladder cross-talk in genetically modified animals.


The lack of TRPV1 receptors does not eliminate the development of cross-sensitization in the pelvis. However, the function of the urinary bladder significantly differs between WT and TRPV−/− mice especially upon development of colon-bladder cross-sensitization induced by transient colitis. Our results suggest that TRPV1 pathways may participate in the development of chronic pelvic pain co-morbidities in humans.

This work tests the hypothesis that bladder instillation with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) modulates sensory and motor nerve plasticity, and, consequently, bladder function and visceral sensitivity.In addition to C57BL/6J, ChAT-cre mice were used for visualization of bladder cholinergic nerves. The direct effect of VEGF on the density of sensory nerves expressing the transient receptor potential vanilloid subfamily 1 (TRPV1) and cholinergic nerves (ChAT) was studied one week after one or two intravesical instillations of the growth factor.To study the effects of VEGF on bladder function, mice were intravesically instilled with VEGF and urodynamic evaluation was assessed. VEGF-induced alteration in bladder dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons was performed on retrogradly labeled urinary bladder afferents by patch-clamp recording of voltage gated Na+ currents. Determination of VEGF-induced changes in sensitivity to abdominal mechanostimulation was performed by application of von Frey filaments.