Background and purpose: Overactive bladder is a complex and widely prevalent condition, but little is known about its physiopathology. We have carried out morphological, biochemical and functional assays to investigate the effects of long-term nitric oxide (NO) deficiency on muscarinic receptor and beta-adrenoceptor modulation leading to overactivity of rat detrusor muscle.
Experimental approach: Male Wistar rats received N(omega)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) in drinking water for 7-30 days. Functional responses to muscarinic and beta-adrenoceptor agonists were measured in detrusor smooth muscle (DSM) strips in Krebs-Henseleit solution. Measurements of [(3)H]inositol phosphate, NO synthase (NOS) activity, [(3)H]quinuclidinyl benzilate ([(3)H]QNB) binding and bladder morphology were also performed.
Key results: Long-term L-NAME treatment significantly increased carbachol-induced DSM contractile responses after 15 and 30 days; relaxing responses to the beta(3)-adrenoceptor agonist BRL 37-344 were significantly reduced at 30 days. Constitutive NOS activity in bladder was reduced by 86% after 7 days and maintained up to 30 days of L-NAME treatment. Carbachol increased sixfold the [(3)H]inositol phosphate in bladder tissue from rats treated with L-NAME. [(3)H]QNB was bound with an apparent K(D) twofold higher in bladder membranes after L-NAME treatment compared with that in control. No morphological alterations in DSM were found.
Conclusions and implications: Long-term NO deficiency increased rat DSM contractile responses to a muscarinic agonist, accompanied by significantly enhanced K(D) values for muscarinic receptors and [(3)H]inositol phosphate accumulation in bladder. This supersensitivity for muscarinic agonists along with reductions of beta(3)-adrenoceptor-mediated relaxations indicated that overactive DSM resulted from chronic NO deficiency.