A model of neural cross-talk and irritation in the pelvis: implications for the overlap of chronic pelvic pain disorders.
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Irritable bowel syndrome, interstitial cystitis, and other chronic pelvic pain (CPP) disorders often occur concomitantly. Neural cross-talk may play a role in the overlap of CPP disorders via the convergence of pelvic afferents. We investigated the hypothesis that afferent irritation of one pelvic organ may adversely influence and sensitize another via neural interactions. METHODS: We measured pelvic organ smooth muscle and striated muscle reflexes during micturition and colorectal distention (CRD) in urethane-anesthetized rats. The effects of acute cystitis on distal colonic sensory thresholds to CRD and the effects of acute colonic irritation on micturition parameters were assessed. RESULTS: External urethral sphincter (EUS) electromyography (EMG) was typical for the rat, with phasic firing during micturition. External anal sphincter EMG also showed phasic firing during micturition in synchrony with EUS activity but, in addition, showed both tonic bursts and phasic firing independent of EUS activity. Before bladder irritation, graded CRDs to 40 cm H2O produced no notable changes in abdominal wall EMG activity. Following acute bladder irritation, dramatic increases in abdominal wall EMG activity in response to CRD were observed at much lower distention pressures, indicating colonic afferent sensitization. Analogously, following acute colonic irritation, bladder contraction frequency increased 66%, suggesting sensitization of lower urinary tract afferents. CONCLUSIONS: We report compelling evidence of bidirectional cross-sensitization of the colon and lower urinary tract in a novel experimental model. This cross-sensitization may account for the substantial overlap of CPP disorders; however, further studies are needed to fully characterize these pathways.
Pezzone, MA; Liang, R; Fraser, MO
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