Desensitization of bladder sensory fibers by intravesical capsaicin or capsaicin analogs. A new strategy for treatment of urge incontinence in patients with spinal detrusor hyperreflexia or bladder hypersensitivity disorders

Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct. 1998;9(4):214-20. doi: 10.1007/BF01901607.


Recent experimental studies have identified a category of unmyelinated type C bladder afferent fibers in the pelvic nerves which are extremely sensitive to capsaicin. Sensory input conveyed by these fibers triggers a spinal reflex which, in chronic spinalized animals, facilitates and controls micturition. In addition, bladder C fibers were also shown to have a role in bladder pain perception. In humans capsaicin-sensitive afferent fibers also innervate the bladder and contribute to the reflexogenic control of the detrusor muscle and to bladder pain perception. Desensitization of such fibers by intravesical administration of capsaicin, presumably by blocking sensory transmission, has been shown to reduce involuntary micturition and to increase bladder capacity in patients with detrusor hyperreflexia of spinal origin, and to reduce the intensity of bladder pain in patients with bladder hypersensitivity. Very recently, resiniferatoxin, an ultrapotent capsaicin analog, was shown to have a similar clinical effect in this subset of patients. However, unlike capsaicin, resiniferatoxin did not evoke acute irritative urinary symptoms during bladder instillation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravesical
  • Animals
  • Capsaicin / administration & dosage*
  • Capsaicin / therapeutic use
  • Diterpenes / administration & dosage
  • Diterpenes / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nerve Fibers / drug effects
  • Neurotoxins / administration & dosage
  • Neurotoxins / therapeutic use
  • Urinary Bladder / innervation*
  • Urinary Bladder, Neurogenic / drug therapy*
  • Urinary Incontinence / drug therapy*


  • Diterpenes
  • Neurotoxins
  • resiniferatoxin
  • Capsaicin