Psychological stress induced bladder overactivity in female mice is associated with enhanced afferent nerve activity

Kylie Mills, Eliza West, Donna J Sellers, Russ Chess-Williams, Catherine McDermott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Psychological stress has been linked to the development and exacerbation of overactive bladder symptoms, as well as afferent sensitisation in other organ systems. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the effects of water avoidance stress on bladder afferent nerve activity in response to bladder filling and pharmaceutical stimulation with carbachol and ATP in mice. Adult female C57BL/6J mice were exposed to either water avoidance stress (WAS) for 1 h/day for 10 days or normal housing conditions. Voiding behaviour was measured before starting and 24-h after final stress exposure and then animals were euthanised to measure afferent nerve activity in association with bladder compliance, spontaneous phasic activity, contractile responses, as well as release of urothelial mediators. WAS caused increased urinary frequency without affecting urine production. The afferent nerve activity at low bladder pressures (4–7 mmHg), relevant to normal physiological filling, was significantly increased after stress. Both low and high threshold nerves demonstrated enhanced activity at physiological bladder pressures. Urothelial ATP and acetylcholine release and bladder compliance were unaffected by stress as was the detrusor response to ATP (1 mM) and carbachol (1 µM). WAS caused enhanced activity of individual afferent nerve fibres in response bladder distension. The enhanced activity was seen in both low and high threshold nerves suggesting that stressed animals may experience enhanced bladder filling sensations at lower bladder volumes as well as increased pain sensations, both potentially contributing to the increased urinary frequency seen after stress.
Original languageEnglish
Article number17508
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


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