The LURN Research Network Neuroimaging and Sensory Testing (NIST) Study: Design, protocols, and operations

Contemp Clin Trials. 2018 Nov;74:76-87. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2018.09.010. Epub 2018 Sep 21.


The Neuroimaging and Sensory Testing (NIST) Study of the Symptoms of Lower Urinary Tract Dysfunction Research Network (LURN) is a cross-sectional, case-control study designed to investigate whether disrupted brain connectivity and sensory processing are associated with abnormal lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) in patients with overactive bladder syndrome (OAB). The NIST Study tests the hypotheses that patients with urinary urgency will demonstrate: (1) abnormal functional and structural connectivity of brain regions involved in urinary sensation on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and (2) hypersensitivity to painful (pressure) and non-painful (auditory) sensory stimuli on quantitative sensory testing (QST), compared to controls. Male and female adults (18 years or older) who present at one of the six participating LURN clinical centers for clinical care of their LUTS, with symptoms of urinary urgency with or without urgency urinary incontinence, are eligible to participate. The NIST Study is the largest MRI and QST study of its kind, yielding a neuroimaging and sensory testing dataset unprecedented in OAB research. Advanced multi-modal techniques are used to understand brain functional and structural connectivity, including gray matter volume, and sensory function. Unlike previous MRI studies which involved invasive catheterization and repeated cycles of non-physiologic bladder filling and emptying via a catheter, we use a water ingestion protocol to mimic more physiological bladder filling through natural diuresis. Furthermore, these data will be used in concert with other phenotyping data to improve our understanding of clinically meaningful subtypes of patients with LUTS in order to improve patient care and management outcomes.

Keywords: Functional MRI; Lower urinary tract symptoms; Overactive bladder; Quantitative sensory testing; Urgency incontinence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Functional Neuroimaging
  • Humans
  • Hyperacusis / physiopathology*
  • Hyperalgesia / physiopathology*
  • Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms / physiopathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Sensory Thresholds
  • Urinary Bladder, Overactive / physiopathology*