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Recruitment of unmyelinated C-fibers mediates the bladder-inhibitory effects of tibial nerve stimulation in a continuous-fill anesthetized rat model

Recruitment of unmyelinated C-fibers mediates the bladder-inhibitory effects of tibial nerve stimulation in a continuous-fill anesthetized rat model

American Journal of Physiology. Renal Physiology 317(1): F163-F171

ISSN/ISBN: 1931-857X

PMID: 31141398

DOI: 10.1152/ajprenal.00502.2018

Although percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation is considered a clinically effective therapy for treating overactive bladder, the mechanism by which overactive bladder symptoms are suppressed remains unclear. The goal of the present study was to better understand the role of specific neural inputs (i.e., fiber types) on the bladder-inhibitory effects of tibial nerve stimulation (TNS). In 24 urethane-anesthetized rats, a continuous suprapubic saline infusion model was used to achieve repeated filling and emptying of the bladder. A total of 4 TNS trials (pulse frequency: 5 Hz) were applied in randomized order, where each trial used different amplitude settings: 1) no stimulation (control), 2) Aβ-fiber activation, 3) Aδ-fiber activation, and 4) C-fiber activation. Each stimulation trial was 30 min in duration, with an intertrial washout period of 60-90 min. Our findings showed that TNS evoked statistically significant changes in bladder function (e.g., bladder capacity, residual volume, voiding efficiency, and basal pressure) only at stimulation amplitudes that electrically recruited unmyelinated C-fibers. In a subset of experiments, TNS also resulted in transient episodes of overflow incontinence. It is noted that changes in bladder function occurred only during the poststimulation period. The bladder-inhibitory effects of TNS in a continuous bladder filling model suggests that electrical recruitment of unmyelinated C-fibers has important functional significance. The implications of these findings in percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation therapy should be further investigated.

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Accession: 069005947

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