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Theriogenology. 2008 Dec;70(9):1516-24. doi: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2008.06.099. Epub 2008 Aug 15.

Differences in the proportion of collagen and muscle in the canine lower urinary tract with regard to gonadal status and gender.

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Reproduction, Genes and Development Unit, The Royal Veterinary College, University of London, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL9 7TA, UK.


Gonadectomy not only affects hormonal homeostasis but also alters the turnover of different components of the extracellular matrix in urogenital tissues. Collagen is an important component of the bladder and urethral walls and thus crucial for the mechanical properties of normal lower urinary tract (LUT) functions. This study aimed at investigating the possibility of differences in the proportion of collagen and muscle tissues in the LUT of intact and gonadectomised male and female dogs. Twenty clinically healthy dogs were used including 10 sexually intact dogs (5 males, 5 anoestrus females) and 10 gonadectomised dogs (4 males and 6 females). Four regions of the LUT, i.e., body and neck of the bladder as well as proximal and distal urethra were collected. The tissue sections were stained with Masson's Trichrome. Quantitative evaluation of the blue-stained area for collagen and red-counterstained area for muscle was performed using colour image analysis. The relative proportion of collagen and muscle significantly differed with the gonadal status, the gender and the region. Overall, gonadectomised dogs had a higher (P<0.001) proportion of collagen and consequently a lower (P<0.001) proportion of muscle than intact dogs. Regardless of gonadal statuses, females had a higher (P<0.05) proportion of collagen and a lower (P<0.05) proportion of muscle tissues than males. Gender differences were found in all four regions of the LUT in intact dogs but only in proximal urethra in gonadectomised dogs where spayed females had a higher (P<0.05) proportion of collagen and less muscle (P<0.05). Regional differences were observed in females; a higher proportion of collagen and therefore less muscle were found in the urethra compared with the bladder. Proportional differences in collagen and muscle between intact and gonadectomised animals suggest a relation of different hormonal statuses to structural changes in the canine LUT. Excessive collagen deposits and less muscular volume may impair structural and functional integrity of the LUT which may associate with the development of post-neutering urinary incontinence in the dog.

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