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Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2009 Oct;297(4):F1101-8. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.90749.2008. Epub 2009 Jul 8.

Social stress in mice induces voiding dysfunction and bladder wall remodeling.

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  • 1Division of Urology, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Several studies have anecdotally reported the occurrence of altered urinary voiding patterns in rodents exposed to social stress. A recent study characterized the urodynamic and central changes in a rat model of social defeat. Here, we describe a similar voiding phenotype induced in mice by social stress and in addition we describe potential molecular mechanisms underlying the resulting bladder wall remodeling. The mechanism leading to the altered voiding habits and underlying bladder phenotype may be relevant to the human syndrome of dysfunctional voiding which is thought to have a psychological component. To better characterize and investigate social stress-induced bladder wall hypertrophy, FVB mice (6 wk old) were randomized to either social stress or control manipulation. The stress involved repeated cycles of a 1-h direct exposure to a larger aggressive C57Bl6 breeder mouse followed by a 23-h period of barrier separation over 4 wk. Social stress resulted in altered urinary voiding patterns suggestive of urinary retention and increased bladder mass. In vivo cystometry revealed an increased volume at micturition with no change in the voiding pressure. Examination of these bladders revealed increased nuclear expression of the transcription factors MEF-2 and NFAT, as well as increased expression of the myosin heavy chain B isoform mRNA. BrdU uptake was increased within the urothelium and lamina propria layers in the social stress group. We conclude that social stress induces urinary retention that ultimately leads to shifts in transcription factors, alterations in myosin heavy chain isoform expression, and increases in DNA synthesis that mediate bladder wall remodeling. Social stress-induced bladder dysfunction in rodents may provide insight into the underlying mechanisms and potential treatment of dysfunctional voiding in humans.

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