Acute Intravesical Capsaicin for the Study of TRPV1 in the Lower Urinary Tract: Clinical Relevance and Potential for Innovation

Med Sci (Basel). 2022 Sep 10;10(3):50. doi: 10.3390/medsci10030050.


Capsaicin acts on sensory nerves via vanilloid receptors. TRPV1 has been extensively studied with respect to functional lower urinary tract (LUT) conditions in rodents and humans. We aimed to (1) provide background information on capsaicin and TRPV1 and its mechanisms of action and basis for clinical use, (2) review the use of acute intravesical capsaicin instillation (AICI) in rodents to mimic various LUT disorders in which capsaicin sensitive C-fibers are involved and (3) discuss future innovative treatments. A comprehensive search of the major literature databases until June 2022 was conducted. Both capsaicin-sensitive and resistant unmyelinated bladder afferent C-fibers are involved in non-neurogenic overactive bladder/detrusor overactivity (OAB/DO). AICI is a suitable model to study afferent hyperactivity mimicking human OAB. Capsaicin-sensitive C-fibers are also involved in neurogenic DO (NDO) and potential targets for NDO treatment. AICI has been successfully tested for NDO treatment in humans. Capsaicin-sensitive bladder afferents are targets for NDO treatment. TRPV1-immunoreactive nerve fibers are involved in the pathogenesis of interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome (IC/PBS). The AICI experimental model appears relevant for the preclinical study of treatments targeting bladder afferents for refractory IC/BPS. The activity of capsaicin-sensitive bladder afferents is increased in experimental bladder outlet obstruction (BOO). The AICI model may also be relevant for bladder disorders resulting from C-fiber hyperexcitabilities related to BOO. In conclusion, there is a rationale for the selective blockade of TRPV1 channels for various bladder disorders. The AICI model is clinically relevant for the investigation of pathophysiological conditions in which bladder C-fiber afferents are overexcited and for assessing innovative treatments for bladder disorders based on their pathophysiology.

Keywords: bladder outlet obstruction; experimental pharmacology; interstitial cystitis; neurogenic detrusor overactivity; overactive bladder; pain bladder syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Capsaicin / therapeutic use
  • Cystitis, Interstitial* / drug therapy
  • Cystitis, Interstitial* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Nerve Fibers, Unmyelinated
  • TRPV Cation Channels
  • Urinary Bladder* / innervation
  • Urinary Bladder* / pathology


  • TRPV Cation Channels
  • TRPV1 protein, human
  • Capsaicin

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.