Corticotropin releasing factor: a mediator of emotional influences on bladder function

J Urol. 2004 Dec;172(6 Pt 2):2570-3. doi: 10.1097/01.ju.0000144142.26242.f3.


Purpose: We review evidence linking overactive bladder (OAB) and interstitial cystitis with anxiety and depression, and highlight the importance of corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) as a potential mediator of these conditions.

Materials and methods: We review the literature and describe ongoing experiments.

Results: CRF is expressed in areas of the central nervous system that control voiding and response to stress. CRF is increased during anxiety, depression and pain as well as functional disorders of the pelvic viscera. Epidemiological studies reveal an association between anxiety and voiding disorders. Experiments in our laboratory show that CRF stimulates bladder activity while CRF antagonists inhibit OAB.

Conclusions: Epidemiological, genetic and neuropharmacological evidence links disorders of voiding and anxiety. CRF may participate in these events and warrants further investigation as a therapeutic target in the treatment of OAB and interstitial cystitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / metabolism
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / physiology*
  • Cystitis, Interstitial / physiopathology*
  • Cystitis, Interstitial / psychology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Receptors, Complement 3b / physiology
  • Receptors, Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / physiology
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Urinary Bladder / physiology*
  • Urinary Incontinence / physiopathology*
  • Urinary Incontinence / psychology


  • CRF receptor type 2
  • Receptors, Complement 3b
  • Receptors, Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone