Urinary tract infections (UTIs) cause bladder hyperactivity and pelvic pain, but the underlying causes of these symptoms remain unknown. We investigated whether afferent sensitization contributes to the bladder overactivity and pain observed in mice suffering from experimentally induced bacterial cystitis. Inoculation of mouse bladders with the uropathogenic Escherichia coli strain UTI89 caused pelvic allodynia, increased voiding frequency, and prompted an acute inflammatory process marked by leukocytic infiltration and edema of the mucosa. Compared to controls, isolated bladder sensory neurons from UTI-treated mice exhibited a depolarized resting membrane potential, lower action potential threshold and rheobase, and increased firing in response to suprathreshold stimulation. To determine whether bacterial virulence factors can contribute to the sensitization of bladder afferents, neurons isolated from naïve mice were incubated with supernatants collected from bacterial cultures with or depleted of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Supernatants containing LPS prompted the sensitization of bladder sensory neurons with both TTX-R and TTX-S action potentials. However, bladder sensory neurons with TTX-S action potentials were not affected by bacterial supernatants depleted of LPS. Unexpectedly, ultrapure LPS increased the excitability only of bladder sensory neurons with TTX-R action potentials, but the supplementation of supernatants depleted of LPS with ultrapure LPS resulted in the sensitization of both population of bladder sensory neurons. In summary, our studies indicate that multiple virulence factors released from UTI89 act on bladder sensory neurons to prompt their sensitization. These sensitized bladder sensory neurons mediate, at least in part, the bladder hyperactivity and pelvic pain seen in mice inoculated with UTI89.
American Journal of Physiology-Renal Physiology – The American Physiological Society
Published: Jan 1, 2022
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