Mechanosensitive properties of pelvic nerve afferent fibers innervating the urinary bladder of the rat

J Neurophysiol. 1994 Nov;72(5):2420-30. doi: 10.1152/jn.1994.72.5.2420.


1. Single-unit activity was recorded from S1 dorsal root afferent fibers in pentobarbital-anesthetized rats. In 25 experiments, 245 afferent fibers were identified by electrical stimulation of the pelvic nerve. Fifty-two percent were C fibers (conduction velocity: 1.70 +/- 0.04 m/s; mean +/- SE) and 48% were A delta-fibers (conduction velocity: 11.07 +/- 0.95 m/s). 2. Of 245 pelvic nerve afferent fibers, 92 (38%) responded to noxious urinary bladder distension (UBD; 80 mmHg); 57 of these fibers were C fibers and 35 were A delta-fibers. Forty-four fibers responded to colorectal distension (CRD; 80 mmHg); 32 were C fibers and 12 were A delta-fibers. A total of 39 fibers were identified in the anal mucosa; 3 were C fibers and 36 were A delta-fibers. Seventy fibers (28%) in these experiments were unresponsive to either UBD or CRD or to probing of the anal mucosa; 32 were unmyelinated C fibers and 38 were A delta-fibers. 3. Reproducibility of responses to repeated UBD (80 mmHg, 20 s; 8 trials at 4-min intervals) was tested in 10 fibers. In nine fibers, responses to repeated distension did not change; one fiber exhibited a progressive decrease in response magnitude after the third trial. 4. Of the 92 afferent fibers that responded to UBD, 45 were further characterized for responses to graded intensities of UBD. Forty fibers had some resting activity (1.7 +/- 0.3 impulses/s) and five fibers exhibited no ongoing activity. The response to UBD adapted slowly during the 20-s period of phasic UBD or during slow isotonic filling of the bladder. 5. The stimulus-response function (SRF) of fibers (n = 45) to graded UBD was monotonic < or = 80 mmHg. Thresholds for responses were determined after extrapolation of the least-squares linear regression line to the ordinate, and varied between 0 and 45 mmHg. The frequency distribution profile of thresholds revealed two populations of pelvic nerve afferent fibers in the urinary bladder: a larger group (n = 36) of low-threshold (LT) fibers (5.7 +/- 1.0 mmHg) and a smaller group (n = 9) of high-threshold (HT) fibers (34 +/- 2.5 mmHg). 6. Responses of four LT fibers to graded UBD were tested before and 30 min after instillation of 0.5 ml of 0.5% acetic acid (pH 3) into the bladder. The mean threshold for response of these fibers before instillation of acetic acid (9.4 +/- 3.1 mmHg) more than doubled (to 22.3 +/- 6.7 mmHg) after instillation of acetic acid.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acid-Base Equilibrium / physiology
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Animals
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory / physiology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology*
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology
  • Nociceptors / physiology
  • Pelvis / innervation*
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • Urinary Bladder / innervation*
  • Urodynamics / physiology