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Open Access Research

Up-regulation of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in primary afferent pathway regulates colon-to-bladder cross-sensitization in rat

Chun-Mei Xia1, Melisa A Gulick1, Sharon J Yu1, John R Grider12, Karnam S Murthy12, John F Kuemmerle12, Hamid I Akbarali3 and Li-Ya Qiao1*

Author Affiliations

1 Departments of Physiology and Biophysics, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, 1220 East Broad Street, PO Box 0551, MMRB 5038, VA 23219 Richmond, Virginia

2 Department of Internal Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, Virginia

3 Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, Virginia

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Journal of Neuroinflammation 2012, 9:30  doi:10.1186/1742-2094-9-30

Published: 15 February 2012

Abstract

Background

In humans, inflammation of either the urinary bladder or the distal colon often results in sensory cross-sensitization between these organs. Limited information is known about the mechanisms underlying this clinical syndrome. Studies with animal models have demonstrated that activation of primary afferent pathways may have a role in mediating viscero-visceral cross-organ sensitization.

Methods

Colonic inflammation was induced by a single dose of tri-nitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS) instilled intracolonically. The histology of the colon and the urinary bladder was examined by hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) stain. The protein expression of transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channel of the vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) were examined by immunohistochemistry and/or western blot. The inter-micturition intervals and the quantity of urine voided were obtained from analysis of cystometrograms.

Results

At 3 days post TNBS treatment, the protein level of TRPV1 was increased by 2-fold (p < 0.05) in the inflamed distal colon when examined with western blot. TRPV1 was mainly expressed in the axonal terminals in submucosal area of the distal colon, and was co-localized with the neural marker PGP9.5. In sensory neurons in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG), BDNF expression was augmented by colonic inflammation examined in the L1 DRG, and was expressed in TRPV1 positive neurons. The elevated level of BDNF in L1 DRG by colonic inflammation was blunted by prolonged pre-treatment of the animals with the neurotoxin resiniferatoxin (RTX). Colonic inflammation did not alter either the morphology of the urinary bladder or the expression level of TRPV1 in this viscus. However, colonic inflammation decreased the inter-micturition intervals and decreased the quantities of urine voided. The increased bladder activity by colonic inflammation was attenuated by prolonged intraluminal treatment with RTX or treatment with intrathecal BDNF neutralizing antibody.

Conclusion

Acute colonic inflammation increases bladder activity without affecting bladder morphology. Primary afferent-mediated BDNF up-regulation in the sensory neurons regulates, at least in part, the bladder activity during colonic inflammation.

Keywords:
BDNF; Afferents; Cross-sensitization; Colon; Bladder