The spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR), a genetic model of high blood pressure, has also been studied as a potential model of overactive bladder. In vivo studies have confirmed the presence of surrogate markers of overactive bladder, including detrusor overactivity, increased urinary frequency, decreased bladder capacity and voided volume (VV), and afferent hypersensitivity to bladder irritation. However, these observations were during awake cystometry using implanted bladder catheters tethered to an infusion pump and artificially filled. We conducted experiments in awake unrestrained untethered age-matched female SHRs and Wistar rats to quantify naïve consumption and voiding behavior and the effect of capsaicin desensitization on consumption and voiding behavior. Food and water consumption, body weight, voiding frequency, and VV were recorded. Rats were placed in metabolism cages for 24 h, up to twice a week, from 17 to 37 wk of age. Compared with Wistar rats, SHRs exhibited decrease in VV and did not exhibit diurnal variation in VV between light and dark periods, suggesting that SHRs may have bladder hypersensitivity. Furthermore, SHRs may also have smaller bladder capacities, as they consumed less water, voided less volume (regardless of light cycle), and had equal urinary frequencies compared with age-matched Wistar rats. We detected no change in SHR voiding behavior following capsaicin desensitization, which was in contrast to a prior awake in vivo cystometry study describing increased VV and micturition interval in SHRs and suggests that C-fiber activity may not contribute to bladder hypersensitivity in SHRs.NEW & NOTEWORTHY We characterized the long-term (20 wk) voiding, defecation, and consumption behavior of age-matched spontaneously hypertensive and Wistar rats without the influence of anesthesia or catheters. Spontaneously hypertensive rats exhibited bladder hypersensitiviy that persisted for the 20-wk duration and was unaffected by capsacin desensitization.
Keywords: capsaicin desensitization; metabolic cages; overactive bladder; spontaneously hypertensive rats.