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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2009 Dec;297(6):G1250-8. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00329.2009. Epub 2009 Sep 24.

Cystitis increases colorectal afferent sensitivity in the mouse.

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Center for Pain Research, Departments of Anesthesiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.


Studies in humans and rodents suggest that colon inflammation promotes urinary bladder hypersensitivity and, conversely, that cystitis contributes to colon hypersensitivity, events referred to as cross-organ sensitization. To investigate a potential peripheral mechanism, we examined whether cystitis alters the sensitivity of pelvic nerve colorectal afferents. Male C57BL/6 mice were treated with cyclophosphamide (CYP) or saline, and the mechanosensitive properties of single afferent fibers innervating the colorectum were studied with an in vitro preparation. In addition, mechanosensitive receptive endings were exposed to an inflammatory soup (IS) to study sensitization. Urinary bladder mechanosensitive afferents were also tested. We found that baseline responses of stretch-sensitive colorectal afferents did not differ between treatment groups. Whereas IS excited a proportion of colorectal afferents CYP treatment did not alter the magnitude of this response. However, the number of stretch-sensitive fibers excited by IS was increased relative to saline-treated mice. Responses to IS were not altered by CYP treatment, but the proportion of IS-responsive fibers was increased relative to saline-treated mice. In bladder, IS application increased responses of muscular afferents to stretch, although no differences were detected between saline- and CYP-treated mice. In contrast, their chemosensitivity to IS was decreased in the CYP-treated group. Histological examination revealed no changes in colorectum and modest edema and infiltration in the urinary bladder of CYP-treated mice. In conclusion, CYP treatment increased mechanical sensitivity of colorectal muscular afferents and increased the proportion of chemosensitive colorectal afferents. These data support a peripheral contribution to cross-organ sensitization of pelvic organs.

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