Functional changes in low-and high-threshold afferents in obstruction-induced bladder overactivity

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Neural mechanisms of lower urinary tract symptoms in obstruction-induced bladder overactivity remain unclear. We made the first single unit recordings from different types of spinal afferents to determine the effects of bladder outlet obstruction in guinea pigs. A model of gradual bladder outlet obstruction in male guinea pigs was used to produce overactive bladder. Conscious voiding was assessed in metabolic cages, and micturition was recorded in anesthetized guinea pigs in vivo. Single unit extracellular recordings were made ex vivo from spinal afferent nerves in flat sheet preparations of the bladder. Guinea pigs with partially obstructed bladders showed a significant increase in conscious voiding frequency compared with sham-operated guinea pigs. Also, nonvoiding contractions increased significantly in both frequency and amplitude. Although spontaneous firing of low-threshold bladder afferents was increased, their stretch-induced firing was reduced. The proportion of capsaicin-sensitive low-threshold afferents increased in obstructed bladders. Interestingly, spontaneous and stretch-induced firing were both significantly increased in high-threshold afferents after obstruction. In summary, sensory signaling increased in the obstructed bladder during the filling phase. This is largely mediated by low-threshold stretch-sensitive afferents that are activated by increased local nonvoiding contractions. Increased spontaneous firing by high-threshold afferents also contributes. Our findings revealed a complex effect of bladder outlet obstruction on different types of bladder afferents that needs consideration for potential therapeutic targeting of lower urinary tract symptoms in obstruction-induced bladder overactivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)F1103-F1113
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Bladder outlet obstruction
  • Bladder overactivity
  • Spinal afferents


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