Urothelial bladder afferent neurons in the rat are anatomically and neurochemically distinct from non-urothelial afferents

Academic Article


  • There is mounting evidence underscoring a role for the urothelium in urinary bladder sensation. Previous functional studies have identified bladder primary afferents with mechanosensitive properties suggesting urothelial innervation and/or communication. The current study identifies a group of urothelium-innervating afferent neurons in rat, and characterizes and compares the properties of these and non-urothelial afferent neuron populations. Lumbosacral (LS) primary afferent neurons were retrogradely labeled using intraparenchymal (IPar) microinjection or intravesical (IVes) infusion of tracer into the bladder. Using these techniques, separate populations of neurons were differentiated by dorsal root ganglion (DRG) somata labeling and dye distribution within the bladder. IPar- and IVes-labeled neurons accounted for 85.0% and 14.4% of labeled L6-S1 neurons (P <.001), respectively, with only 0.6% of neurons labeled by both techniques. Following IVes labeling, dye was contained only within the periurothelial bladder region in contrast to non-urothelial distribution of dye after IPar labeling. Electrophysiological characterization by in situ patch-clamp recordings from whole-mount DRG preparations indicated no significant difference in passive or active membrane properties of IPar and IVes DRG neurons. However, calcium imaging of isolated neurons indicates that a greater proportion of IPar- than IVes-labeled neurons express functional TRPA1 (45.7% versus 25.6%, respectively; P <.05). This study demonstrates that two anatomically distinct groups of LS bladder afferents can be identified in rat. Further studies of urothelial afferents and the phenotypic differences between non-/urothelial afferents may have important implications for normal and pathophysiological bladder sensory processing.
  • Published In

  • Brain Research  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Clodfelder-Miller BJ; Kanda H; Gu JG; Creighton JR; Ness TJ; DeBerry JJ
  • Start Page

  • 45
  • End Page

  • 53
  • Volume

  • 1689