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BMC Physiol. 2007 Aug 28;7:9.

Exogenous overexpression of nerve growth factor in the urinary bladder produces bladder overactivity and altered micturition circuitry in the lumbosacral spinal cord.

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Department of Surgery, University of Vermont College of Medicine, 89 Beaumont Avenue, Burlington, VT 05405, USA.



Exogenous NGF or saline was delivered to the detrusor smooth muscle of female rats for a two-week period using osmotic mini-pumps. We then determined: (1) bladder function using conscious cystometry; (2) organization of micturition reflexes using Fos protein expression in lumbosacral (L5-S1) spinal cord neurons; (3) calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)-immunoreactivity (IR) in lumbosacral spinal cord segments.


An osmotic pump infused 0.9% NaCl (n = 6) or NGF (n = 6)(2.5 microg/microl solution; 0.5 microl/hr) for two weeks into the bladder wall. NGF bladder content was determined by enzyme-linked immunoassays. Bladder function was assessed with conscious cystometry. Immunohistochemical and imaging techniques were used to determine the distribution of Fos-IR cells and CGRP expression in the L5-S1 spinal cord in saline and NGF-treated rats two hours after intravesical saline distention. Fos expression and CGRP-IR in NGF-treated rats with bladder distention was compared to that observed in cyclophosphamide (CYP; 75 mg/kg; i.p.) treated rats with bladder distention.


Two-week infusion of NGF into the bladder wall increased bladder weight, reduced bladder capacity (60%), reduced the intercontraction interval (60%) and increased the amplitude of non-voiding contractions. NGF treatment and intravesical saline distention (2 hr) increased expression of Fos protein in L6-S1 spinal cord and altered the distribution pattern of Fos-IR cells. CGRP-IR in the lumbosacral spinal cord was also increased after NGF treatment.


These data suggest that NGF infusion into the bladder wall induces bladder overactivity, can reveal a "nociceptive" Fos expression pattern in the spinal cord in response to a non-noxious bladder stimulus and increases CGRP-IR in the lumbosacral spinal cord.

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