This work aimed at establishing the relevance of using the in vivo model of cyclophosphamide (CYP)-induced bladder inflammation in rats for in vivo pharmacological studies. Specifically, we measured visceral nociception, identified key inflammatory mediators and evaluated the effects of relevant pharmacological treatments. Cystitis was induced in female rats by a single CYP injection. Sensitivity of the lower abdomen to von Frey mechanical stimulation was determined as a nociceptive parameter. Bladders were assessed for weight, wall thickness and macroscopic damage. Inflammatory mediators were quantified in bladders and urines. The effects of aspirin, ibuprofen and morphine were investigated on all these parameters. A single CYP injection increased nociceptive scores and decreased nociceptive threshold in response to mechanical stimuli between 1 and 4h post-administration. Increased bladder weight and wall thickness were associated with edema and hemorrhage. Bladder levels of IL-1β, IL-6, MCP-1 and VCAM, and urinary levels of PGE2 were increased. In contrast, a decrease in the urinary metabolites, indoxyl sulfate and pantothenic acid, was observed. Aspirin, ibuprofen and morphine decreased CYP-induced referred visceral pain. Aspirin and ibuprofen also reversed the increased wall thickness, macroscopic damage and levels of IL-1β, IL-6 and PGE2, and the decreased panthotenic acid levels. In contrast, morphine increased wall thickness, edema, hemorrhage, and bladder IL-6 and MCP-1 levels. This work presents a new and reliable method to evaluate visceral sensitivity in rats, and new relevant biomarkers identified in the bladder and urine to measure inflammation and pain parameters for in vivo pharmacological studies.
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