Background: The regulation and control of pressure stimuli is useful for many studies of pain and nociception especially those in the visceral pain field. In many in vivo experiments, distinct air and liquid stimuli at varying pressures are delivered to hollow organs such as the bladder, vagina, and colon. These stimuli are coupled with behavioral, molecular, or physiological read-outs of the response to the stimulus. Care must be taken to deliver precise timed stimuli during experimentation. For example, stimuli signals can be used online to precisely time-lock the stimulus with a physiological output. Such precision requires the development of specialized hardware to control the stimulus (e.g., air) while providing a precise read-out of pressure and stimulus signal markers.
Methods: In this study, we designed a timed pressure regulator [termed visceral pressure stimulator (VPS)] to control air flow, measure pressure (in mmHg), and send stimuli markers to online software. The device was built using a simple circuit and primarily off-the-shelf parts. A separate custom inline analog-to-digital pressure converter was used to validate the real pressure output of the VPS.
Results: Using commercial physiological software (Spike2, CED), we were able to measure mouse bladder pressure continuously during delivery of unique air stimulus trials in a mouse while simultaneously recording an electromyogram (EMG) of the overlying abdominal muscles.
Conclusions: This device will be useful for those who need to (1) deliver distinct pressure stimuli while (2) measuring the pressure in real-time and (3) monitoring stimulus on-off using physiological software.
Keywords: Bladder pain; Colorectal pain; Timed pressure regulator; Visceral pain.