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1.  Mini-Arc for the Treatment of Female Stress Urinary Incontinence: Long-Term Prospective Evaluation by Patient Reported Outcomes 
ISRN Urology  2014;2014:659383.
Single-incision slings were introduced in the surgical treatment of female stress urinary incontinence (SUI) to lessen the morbidity associated with traditional midurethral slings. However, long-term reports on patient satisfaction are still scarce. This study describes the outcome of women treated with Mini-Arc at a mean follow-up of 45 months. In a previous report on 105 women with 15-month mean follow-up, 84 (80%) were found cured and 12 (11%) improved. Now, with a mean follow-up of 45 months, cured/improved patients were reassessed by telephone and completed Patient Global Impression of Improvement (PGI-I), Patient Global Impression of Severity (PGI-S), rated their improvement in a 0–100 scale, and answered if they would recommend the procedure. At 45-month follow-up, 73 women cured/improved were available for evaluation. Over 80% of the cured patients rated the improvement of SUI by the PGI-I as “very much better” or “much better,” reported their urinary tract condition to be “normal” on PGI-S, and described their improvement >70%. Ninety percent would recommend this procedure to a friend. The improved-patient population is very small (n = 7). This study shows that the majority of patients cured/improved after Mini-Arc placement maintain a high degree of satisfaction at a long-term evaluation.
PMCID: PMC3918723  PMID: 24579053
2.  OnabotulinumtoxinA is Effective in Patients with Urinary Incontinence due to Neurogenic Detrusor Activity Regardless of Concomitant Anticholinergic Use or Neurologic Etiology 
Advances in Therapy  2013;30:819-833.
To evaluate the efficacy and safety of onabotulinumtoxinA for the treatment of neurogenic detrusor overactivity (NDO) in subpopulations of etiology (multiple sclerosis [MS] or spinal cord injury [SCI]) and concomitant anticholinergics (use/non-use).
Data were pooled from two double-blind, placebo-controlled, pivotal, phase 3 studies including a total of 691 patients with ≥14 urinary incontinence (UI) episodes/week due to MS (n = 381) or SCI (n = 310). Patients received intradetrusor injections of onabotulinumtoxinA 200U (n = 227), 300U (n = 223), or placebo (n = 241). Change from baseline at week 6 in UI episodes/week (primary endpoint), urodynamics, quality of life (QOL), and adverse events (AEs) were assessed.
Significant and similar reductions in UI episodes were observed regardless of etiology or anticholinergic use: at week 6, mean weekly decreases of −22.6 and −19.6 were seen in MS and SCI patients, respectively, and −20.3 and −22.5 in anticholinergic users and non-users, respectively, treated with onabotulinumtoxinA 200U. The 300U dose did not add to the clinical efficacy in any subpopulation. Similar proportions of patients achieved ≥50% or 100% reductions in UI episodes in all subgroups. Improvements in maximum cystometric capacity, maximum detrusor pressure during first involuntary detrusor contraction, and QOL were significant in both etiologies and were independent of anticholinergic use. The most common AEs in all groups were urinary tract infection and urinary retention.
Regardless of concomitant anticholinergic use or etiology, onabotulinumtoxinA significantly improved UI symptoms, urodynamics, and QOL in patients with UI due to NDO. OnabotulinumtoxinA was well tolerated in all groups.
PMCID: PMC3824824  PMID: 24072665
Botulinum toxin; Multiple sclerosis; OnabotulinumtoxinA; Spinal cord injury; Urinary incontinence
4.  Neurotrophins in the Lower Urinary Tract: Becoming of Age 
Current Neuropharmacology  2011;9(4):553-558.
The lower urinary tract (LUT) comprises a storage unit, the urinary bladder, and an outlet, the urethra. The coordination between the two structures is tightly controlled by the nervous system and, therefore, LUT function is highly susceptible to injuries to the neuronal pathways involved in micturition control. These injuries may include lesions to the spinal cord or to nerve fibres and result in micturition dysfunction. A common trait of micturition pathologies, irrespective of its origin, is an upregulation in synthesis and secretion of neurotrophins, most notably Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). These neurotrophins are produced by neuronal and non-neuronal cells and exert their effects upon binding to their high-affinity receptors abundantly expressed in the neuronal circuits regulating LUT function. In addition, NGF and BDNF are present in detectable amounts in the urine of patients suffering from various LUT pathologies, suggesting that analysis of urinary NGF and BDNF may serve as likely biomarkers to be studied in tandem with other factors when diagnosing patients. Studies with experimental models of bladder dysfunction using antagonists of NGF and BDNF receptors as well as scavenging agents suggest that those NTs may be key elements in the pathophysiology of bladder dysfunctions. In addition, available data indicates that NGF and BDNF might constitute future targets for designing new drugs for better treatment of bladder dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3263451  PMID: 22654715
NGF; BDNF; Trk receptors; bladder; LUT.
5.  Expression of apoptosis-regulating genes in the rat prostate following botulinum toxin type a injection 
BMC Urology  2012;12:1.
Onabotulinumtoxin A (OnabotA) injection has been investigated as a novel treatment for benign prostatic enlargement caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia. An OnabotA - induced volume reduction caused by sympathetic fibers impairment has been proposed as a potential mechanism of action. Our aim was to investigate the expression of apoptosis-regulating proteins in the rat prostate following OnabotA intraprostatic injection.
Adult Wistar rats were injected in the ventral lobes of the prostate with 10 U of OnabotA or saline. A set of OnabotA-injected animals was further treated with 0.5 mg/kg of phenylephrine (PHE) subcutaneously daily. All animals were sacrificed after 1 week and had their prostates harvested. Immunohistochemical staining was performed for Bax, Bcl-xL and caspase-3 proteins and visualized by the avidin-biotin method. The optical density of the glandular cells was also determined, with measurement of differences between average optical densities for each group.
Saline-treated animals showed intense epithelial staining for Bcl-xL and a faint labelling for both Bax and Caspase-3. OnabotA-treated rats showed a reduced epithelial staining of Bcl-xL and a consistently increased Bax and Caspase-3 staining when compared with saline-treated animals. PHE-treated animals showed a stronger Bcl-xL staining and reduced staining of both Bax and Caspase-3 when compared to the OnabotA group. Mean signal intensity measurements for each immunoreaction confirmed a significant decrease of the signal intensity for Bcl-xL and a significant increase of the signal intensity for Bax and Caspase 3 in OnabotA-injected animals when compared with the control group. In OnabotA+PHE treated animals mean signal intensity for Bcl-xL, Bax and Caspase 3 immunoreactions was identical to that of the control animals.
These results support the hypothesis that OnabotA activates apoptotic pathways in the rat prostate through a mechanism that involves sympathetic outflow impairment.
PMCID: PMC3265407  PMID: 22216975
Botulinum toxin; prostate; apoptosis
6.  VEGF signaling mediates bladder neuroplasticity and inflammation in response to BCG 
BMC Physiology  2011;11:16.
This work tests the hypothesis that increased levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) observed during bladder inflammation modulates nerve plasticity.
Chronic inflammation was induced by intravesical instillations of Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) into the urinary bladder and the density of nerves expressing the transient receptor potential vanilloid subfamily 1 (TRPV1) or pan-neuronal marker PGP9.5 was used to quantify alterations in peripheral nerve plasticity. Some mice were treated with B20, a VEGF neutralizing antibody to reduce the participation of VEGF. Additional mice were treated systemically with antibodies engineered to specifically block the binding of VEGF to NRP1 (anti-NRP1B) and NRP2 (NRP2B), or the binding of semaphorins to NRP1 (anti-NRP1 A) to diminish activity of axon guidance molecules such as neuropilins (NRPs) and semaphorins (SEMAs). To confirm that VEGF is capable of inducing inflammation and neuronal plasticity, another group of mice was instilled with recombinant VEGF165 or VEGF121 into the urinary bladder.
The major finding of this work was that chronic BCG instillation resulted in inflammation and an overwhelming increase in both PGP9.5 and TRPV1 immunoreactivity, primarily in the sub-urothelium of the urinary bladder. Treatment of mice with anti-VEGF neutralizing antibody (B20) abolished the effect of BCG on inflammation and nerve density.
NRP1A and NRP1B antibodies, known to reduce BCG-induced inflammation, failed to block BCG-induced increase in nerve fibers. However, the NRP2B antibody dramatically potentiated the effects of BCG in increasing PGP9.5-, TRPV1-, substance P (SP)-, and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)-immunoreactivity (IR). Finally, instillation of VEGF121 or VEGF165 into the mouse bladder recapitulated the effects of BCG and resulted in a significant inflammation and increase in nerve density.
For the first time, evidence is being presented supporting that chronic BCG instillation into the mouse bladder promotes a significant increase in peripheral nerve density that was mimicked by VEGF instillation. Effects of BCG were abolished by pre-treatment with neutralizing VEGF antibody. The present results implicate the VEGF pathway as a key modulator of inflammation and nerve plasticity, introduces a new animal model for investigation of VEGF-induced nerve plasticity, and suggests putative mechanisms underlying this phenomenon.
PMCID: PMC3226567  PMID: 22059553
7.  Biomarkers in Overactive Bladder: A New Objective and Noninvasive Tool? 
Advances in Urology  2011;2011:382431.
Overactive bladder syndrome (OAB) is a highly prevalent urinary dysfunction, with considerable economic and human costs. Clinical diagnosis of OAB is still based on subjective symptoms. A new accurate, objective and noninvasive test to diagnose OAB and assess therapeutic outcome is lacking. Recent studies in lower urinary tract (LUT) dysfunctions, particularly in OAB patients, indicate that urinary proteins (neurotrophins, prostaglandins, and cytokines), serum C reactive protein, and detrusor wall thickness are altered, and such changes could be used as biomarkers of the disease. Nowadays, increasing emphasis has been given to the role of urinary neurotrophins, namely nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), as key players in some urinary dysfunctions. Although recently considered to be a bladder dysfunction biomarker, urinary NGF presents low sensitivity and specificity. Preliminary results suggest that BDNF may serve as a more efficient biomarker. Even though we have to wait for future studies to confirm the potential role of NGF and BDNF as OAB biomarkers, it is already clear that neurotrophins will contribute to elucidate the physiopathological basis of OAB. Herein are reviewed the latest advances in this new and exciting field, the detection and clinical application of emerging OAB biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC3113283  PMID: 21687625
8.  Effect of Angiogenesis-Related Cytokines on Rotator Cuff Disease: The Search for Sensitive Biomarkers of Early Tendon Degeneration 
Hallmarks of the pathogenesis of rotator cuff disease (RCD) include an abnormal immune response, angiogenesis, and altered variables of vascularity. Degenerative changes enhance production of pro-inflammatory, anti-inflammatory, and vascular angiogenesis-related cytokines (ARC) that play a pivotal role in the immune response to arthroscopic surgery and participate in the pathogenesis of RCD. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the ARC profile, ie, interleukin (IL): IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), and angiogenin (ANG), in human peripheral blood serum and correlate this with early degenerative changes in patients with RCD.
Blood specimens were obtained from 200 patients with RCD and 200 patients seen in the orthopedic clinic for nonrotator cuff disorders. Angiogenesis imaging assays was performed using power Doppler ultrasound to evaluate variables of vascularity in the rotator cuff tendons. Expression of ARC was measured by commercial Bio-Plex Precision Pro Human Cytokine Assays.
Baseline concentrations of IL-1β, IL-8, and VEGF was significantly higher in RCD patients than in controls. Significantly higher serum VEGF levels were found in 85% of patients with RCD, and correlated with advanced stage of disease (r = 0.75; P < 0.0005), average microvascular density (r = 0.68, P < 0.005), and visual analog score (r = 0.75, P < 0.0002) in RCD patients. ANG and IL-10 levels were significantly lower in RCD patients versus controls. IL-1β and ANG levels were significantly correlated with degenerative tendon grade in RCD patients. No difference in IL-6 and bFGF levels was observed between RCD patients and controls. Patients with degenerative changes had markedly lower ANG levels compared with controls. Power Doppler ultrasound showed high blood vessel density in patients with tendon rupture.
The pathogenesis of RCD is associated with an imbalance between pro-inflammatory, anti-inflammatory, and vascular ARC.
PMCID: PMC3115636  PMID: 21792342
rotator cuff disease; tendon degeneration; angiogenesis-related cytokines; biomarkers; power Doppler ultrasound
9.  Intraprostatic Botulinum Toxin Type A injection in patients with benign prostatic enlargement: duration of the effect of a single treatment 
BMC Urology  2009;9:9.
Botulinum Toxin Type-A (BoNT/A) intraprostatic injection can induce prostatic involution and improve LUTS and urinary flow in patients with Benign Prostatic Enlargement (BPE). However, the duration of these effects is unknown. The objective of this work was to determine the duration of prostate volume reduction after one single intraprostatic injection of 200U of Botulinum Toxin Type-A.
This is an extension of a 6 month study in which 21 frail elderly patients with refractory urinary retention and unfit for surgery were submitted to intraprostatic injection of BoNT/A-200U, by ultrasound guided transrectal approach. In spite of frail conditions, eleven patients could be followed during 18 months. Prostate volume, total serum PSA, maximal flow rate (Qmax), residual volume (PVR) and IPSS-QoL scores were determined at 1, 3, 6, 12 and 18 months post-treatment.
Mean prostate volume at baseline, 82 ± 16 ml progressively decreased from month one coming to 49 ± 9,5 ml (p = 0,003) at month six. From this moment on, prostate volume slowly recovered, becoming identical to baseline at 18 months (73 ± 16 ml, p = 0.03). Albeit non significant, serum PSA showed a 25% decrease from baseline to month 6. The 11 patients resumed spontaneous voiding at month one. Mean Qmax was 11,3 ± 1,7 ml/sec and remained unchanged during the follow-up period. PVR ranged from 55 ± 17 to 82 ± 20 ml and IPSS score from10 to 12 points.
Intraprostatic BoNT/A injection is safe and can reduce prostate volume for a period of 18 months. During this time a marked symptomatic improvement can be maintained.
PMCID: PMC2734751  PMID: 19682392
10.  The ERK 1 and 2 Pathway in the Nervous System: From Basic Aspects to Possible Clinical Applications in Pain and Visceral Dysfunction 
Current Neuropharmacology  2007;5(4):244-252.
The extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK) cascade, member of the mitogen-activated protein kinases superfamily of signalling pathways, is one of the best characterized pathways as many protein interactions and phosphorylation events have been systematically studied. Traditionally, ERK are associated with the regulation of proliferation and differentiation as well as survival of various cell types. Their activity is controlled by phosphorylation on specific aminoacidic residues, which is induced by a variety of external cues, including growth-promoting factors.
In the nervous system, ERK phosphorylation is induced by binding of neurotrophins to their specific tyrosine kinase receptors or by neuronal activity leading to glutamate release and binding to its ionotropic and metabotropic receptors. Some studies have provided evidence of its importance in neuroplastic events. In particular, ERK phosphorylation in the spinal cord was shown to be nociceptive-specific and its upregulation, occurring in cases of chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain, seems to be of the utmost importance to behavioural changes observed in those conditions. In fact, experiments using specific inhibitors of ERK phosphorylation have proved that ERK directly contributes to allodynia and hyperalgesia caused by spinal cord injury or chronic pain. Additionally, spinal ERK phosphorylation regulates the micturition reflex in experimental models of bladder inflammation and chronic spinal cord transection.
In this review we will address the main findings that suggest that ERK might be a future therapeutic target to treat pain and other complications arising from chronic pain or neuronal injury.
PMCID: PMC2644492  PMID: 19305741
ERK; MAPK; somatic pain; visceral pain; visceral reflex activity; ERK inhibition; pain.
11.  Bladder sensory desensitization decreases urinary urgency 
BMC Urology  2007;7:9.
Bladder desensitization has been investigated as an alternative treatment for refractory detrusor overactivity. Most open and controlled clinical trials conducted with intravesical RTX showed that desensitization delays the appearance of involuntary detrusor contractions during bladder filling and decreases the number of episodes of urgency incontinence.
Urgency is being recognised as the fundamental symptom of overactive bladder (OAB), a symptomatic complex which recent epidemiological studies have shown to affect more than 10% of the Western population. As anti-muscarinic drugs, the first line treatment for OAB, are far from being able to fully control urgency, the opportunity to test other therapeutic approaches is created. The present work was, therefore, designed as an exploratory investigation to evaluate the effect of bladder desensitization on urinary urgency.
Twenty-three OAB patients with refractory urgency entered, after given informed consent, a 30 days run-in period in which medications influencing the bladder function were interrupted. At the end of this period patients filled a seven-day voiding chart where they scored, using a 0–4 scale, the bladder sensations felt before each voiding. Then, patients were instilled with 100 ml of 10% ethanol in saline (vehicle solution) and 30 days later a second seven-day voiding chart was collected. Finally, patients were instilled with 100 ml of 50 nM RTX in 10% ethanol in saline. At 1 and 3 months additional voiding charts were collected.
At the end of the vehicle and 3 months period patients were asked to give their subjective impression about the outcome of the treatment and about the willingness to repeat the previous instillation.
At the end of the run-in period the mean number of episodes of urgency per week was 71 ± 12 (mean ± SEM). After vehicle instillation, the mean number of episodes of urgency was 56 ± 11, but only 4 patients (17%) considered that their urinary condition had improved enough to repeat the treatment. At 1 and 3 months after RTX the number of episodes of urgency decreased to 39 ± 9 (p = 0.002) and 37 ± 6 (p = 0.02), respectively (p indicates statistical differences against vehicle). The percentage of patients with subjective improvement after RTX and willing to repeat the instillation at a later occasion was 69%.
In OAB patients with refractory urgency bladder desensitization should be further investigated as an alternative to the standard management. Additionally, the specific effect of RTX on TRPV1 receptors suggests that urothelium and sub-urothelial C-fibers play an important role to the generation of urgency sensation.
PMCID: PMC1903357  PMID: 17561998
12.  Structures of the Iron-Sulfur Flavoproteins from Methanosarcina thermophila and Archaeoglobus fulgidus 
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(11):3848-3854.
Iron-sulfur flavoproteins (ISF) constitute a widespread family of redox-active proteins in anaerobic prokaryotes. Based on sequence homologies, their overall structure is expected to be similar to that of flavodoxins, but in addition to a flavin mononucleotide cofactor they also contain a cubane-type [4Fe:4S] cluster. In order to gain further insight into the function and properties of ISF, the three-dimensional structures of two ISF homologs, one from the thermophilic methanogen Methanosarcina thermophila and one from the hyperthermophilic sulfate-reducing archaeon Archaeoglobus fulgidus, were determined. The structures indicate that ISF assembles to form a tetramer and that electron transfer between the two types of redox cofactors requires oligomerization to juxtapose the flavin mononucleotide and [4Fe:4S] cluster bound to different subunits. This is only possible between different monomers upon oligomerization. Fundamental differences in the surface properties of the two ISF homologs underscore the diversity encountered within this protein family.
PMCID: PMC1112032  PMID: 15901710
13.  Iron-Sulfur Flavoprotein (Isf) from Methanosarcina thermophila Is the Prototype of a Widely Distributed Family 
Journal of Bacteriology  2001;183(21):6225-6233.
A total of 35 homologs of the iron-sulfur flavoprotein (Isf) from Methanosarcina thermophila were identified in databases. All three domains were represented, and multiple homologs were present in several species. An unusually compact cysteine motif ligating the 4Fe-4S cluster in Isf is conserved in all of the homologs except two, in which either an aspartate or a histidine has replaced the second cysteine in the motif. A phylogenetic analysis of Isf homologs identified four subgroups, two of which were supported by bootstrap data. Three homologs from metabolically and phylogenetically diverse species in the Bacteria and Archaea domains (Af3 from Archaeoglobus fulgidus, Cd1 from Clostridium difficile, and Mj2 from Methanococcus jannaschii) were overproduced in Escherichia coli. Each homolog purified as a homodimer, and the UV-visible absorption spectra were nearly identical to that of Isf. After reconstitution with iron, sulfide, and flavin mononucleotide (FMN) the homologs contained six to eight nonheme iron atoms and 1.6 to 1.7 FMN molecules per dimer, suggesting that two 4Fe-4S or 3Fe-4S clusters and two FMN cofactors were bound to each dimer, which is consistent with Isf data. Homologs Af3 and Mj2 were reduced by CO in reactions catalyzed by cell extract of acetate-grown M. thermophila, but Cd1 was not. Homologs Af3 and Mj2 were reduced by CO in reactions catalyzed by A. fulgidus and M. jannaschii cell extracts. Cell extract of Clostridium thermoaceticum catalyzed CO reduction of Cd1. Our database sequence analyses and biochemical characterizations indicate that Isf is the prototype of a family of iron-sulfur flavoproteins that occur in members of all three domains.
PMCID: PMC100102  PMID: 11591665
14.  Export of a Cysteine-Free Misfolded Secretory Protein from the Endoplasmic Reticulum for Degradation Requires Interaction with Protein Disulfide Isomerase 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1999;147(7):1443-1456.
Protein disulfide isomerase (PDI) interacts with secretory proteins, irrespective of their thiol content, late during translocation into the ER; thus, PDI may be part of the quality control machinery in the ER. We used yeast pdi1 mutants with deletions in the putative peptide binding region of the molecule to investigate its role in the recognition of misfolded secretory proteins in the ER and their export to the cytosol for degradation. Our pdi1 deletion mutants are deficient in the export of a misfolded cysteine-free secretory protein across the ER membrane to the cytosol for degradation, but ER-to-Golgi complex transport of properly folded secretory proteins is only marginally affected. We demonstrate by chemical cross-linking that PDI specifically interacts with the misfolded secretory protein and that mutant forms of PDI have a lower affinity for this protein. In the ER of the pdi1 mutants, a higher proportion of the misfolded secretory protein remains associated with BiP, and in export-deficient sec61 mutants, the misfolded secretory protein remain bounds to PDI. We conclude that the chaperone PDI is part of the quality control machinery in the ER that recognizes terminally misfolded secretory proteins and targets them to the export channel in the ER membrane.
PMCID: PMC2174254  PMID: 10613903
protein disulfide isomerase; endoplasmic reticulum-associated degradation; endoplasmic reticulum quality control; BiP; yeast

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