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Lack of transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 channel modulates the development of neurogenic bladder dysfunction induced by cross-sensitization in afferent pathways

Qi Lei1, Xiao-Qing Pan1, Antonio N Villamor1, Tirsit S Asfaw2, Shaohua Chang3, Steven A Zderic4 and Anna P Malykhina1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgery, Division of Urology, University of Pennsylvania, 500 South Ridgeway Avenue, Glenolden, PA, 19036, USA

2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Weill Cornell Medical College, 1305 York Avenue, New York, NY, 10065, USA

3 Department of Surgery, Cooper University, One Cooper Plaza, Camden, NJ, 08103, USA

4 John W. Duckett Center for Pediatric Urology, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 34th Street and Civic Center Blvd, Philadelphia, PA, 19104, USA

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Journal of Neuroinflammation 2013, 10:3  doi:10.1186/1742-2094-10-3

Published: 11 January 2013



Bladder pain of unknown etiology has been associated with co-morbid conditions and functional abnormalities in neighboring pelvic organs. Mechanisms underlying pain co-morbidities include cross-sensitization, which occurs predominantly via convergent neural pathways connecting distinct pelvic organs. Our previous results showed that colonic inflammation caused detrusor instability via activation of transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) signaling pathways, therefore, we aimed to determine whether neurogenic bladder dysfunction can develop in the absence of TRPV1 receptors.


Adult male C57BL/6 wild-type (WT) and TRPV1−/− (knockout) mice were used in this study. Colonic inflammation was induced by intracolonic trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS). The effects of transient colitis on abdominal sensitivity and function of the urinary bladder were evaluated by cystometry, contractility and relaxation of detrusor smooth muscle (DSM) in vitro to various stimuli, gene and protein expression of voltage-gated sodium channels in bladder sensory neurons, and pelvic responses to mechanical stimulation.


Knockout of TRPV1 gene did not eliminate the development of cross-sensitization between the colon and urinary bladder. However, TRPV1−/− mice had prolonged intermicturition interval and increased number of non-voiding contractions at baseline followed by reduced urodynamic responses during active colitis. Contractility of DSM was up-regulated in response to KCl in TRPV1−/− mice with inflamed colon. Application of Rho-kinase inhibitor caused relaxation of DSM in WT but not in TRPV1−/− mice during colonic inflammation. TRPV1−/− mice demonstrated blunted effects of TNBS-induced colitis on expression and function of voltage-gated sodium channels in bladder sensory neurons, and delayed development of abdominal hypersensitivity upon colon-bladder cross-talk in genetically modified animals.


The lack of TRPV1 receptors does not eliminate the development of cross-sensitization in the pelvis. However, the function of the urinary bladder significantly differs between WT and TRPV−/− mice especially upon development of colon-bladder cross-sensitization induced by transient colitis. Our results suggest that TRPV1 pathways may participate in the development of chronic pelvic pain co-morbidities in humans.

Chronic pelvic pain; Bladder sensory neurons; Neurogenic bladder; Detrusor contractility