The anxiolytic sertraline reduces the impact of psychological stress on bladder function in mice

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To determine if treatment with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) sertraline reduces the bladder dysfunction caused by water avoidance stress in mice.

Main methods
Adult female mice were randomly allocated to (1) Unstressed, (2) Stressed or (3) Stress + Sertraline experimental groups. Stressed mice were subjected to water avoidance for 1 h/day for 10 days and received sertraline or vehicle in drinking water, starting 10-days prior to the first stress exposure. Age matched control/unstressed mice were house under normal conditions without stress exposure. Voiding behaviour was assessed throughout the experimental protocol. After the final stress exposure, a blood sample was taken to measure plasma corticosterone levels and bladders were removed, catheterised and intravesical pressure responses recorded during distension and in response to pharmacological agents.

Key findings
Plasma corticosterone levels in sertraline-treated animals were equivalent to unstressed controls and significantly decreased compared to the stressed group. Voiding frequency was significantly increased in the stressed group, and treatment with sertraline significantly decreased voiding frequency, however, this remained elevated compared to unstressed control animals. Bladders from stressed mice displayed enhanced maximal contractile response to the muscarinic agonist carbachol and greater release of ACh in the serosal fluid, which was reduced to control levels by sertraline treatment. Spontaneous phasic contractions were not altered by stress but were significantly reduced in bladders from sertraline treated animals, relative to controls.

These results indicate that management of voiding dysfunction caused by psychological stress may be aided by the addition of an SSRI such as sertraline.
Original languageEnglish
Article number119598
JournalLife Sciences
Early online date10 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


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