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1.  VEGF induces sensory and motor peripheral plasticity, alters bladder function, and promotes visceral sensitivity 
BMC Physiology  2012;12:15.
This work tests the hypothesis that bladder instillation with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) modulates sensory and motor nerve plasticity, and, consequently, bladder function and visceral sensitivity.
In addition to C57BL/6J, ChAT-cre mice were used for visualization of bladder cholinergic nerves. The direct effect of VEGF on the density of sensory nerves expressing the transient receptor potential vanilloid subfamily 1 (TRPV1) and cholinergic nerves (ChAT) was studied one week after one or two intravesical instillations of the growth factor.
To study the effects of VEGF on bladder function, mice were intravesically instilled with VEGF and urodynamic evaluation was assessed. VEGF-induced alteration in bladder dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons was performed on retrogradly labeled urinary bladder afferents by patch-clamp recording of voltage gated Na+ currents. Determination of VEGF-induced changes in sensitivity to abdominal mechanostimulation was performed by application of von Frey filaments.
In addition to an overwhelming increase in TRPV1 immunoreactivity, VEGF instillation resulted in an increase in ChAT-directed expression of a fluorescent protein in several layers of the urinary bladder. Intravesical VEGF caused a profound change in the function of the urinary bladder: acute VEGF (1 week post VEGF treatment) reduced micturition pressure and longer treatment (2 weeks post-VEGF instillation) caused a substantial reduction in inter-micturition interval. In addition, intravesical VEGF resulted in an up-regulation of voltage gated Na+ channels (VGSC) in bladder DRG neurons and enhanced abdominal sensitivity to mechanical stimulation.
For the first time, evidence is presented indicating that VEGF instillation into the mouse bladder promotes a significant increase in peripheral nerve density together with alterations in bladder function and visceral sensitivity. The VEGF pathway is being proposed as a key modulator of neural plasticity in the pelvis and enhanced VEGF content may be associated with visceral hyperalgesia, abdominal discomfort, and/or pelvic pain.
PMCID: PMC3543727  PMID: 23249422
2.  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
3.  Mandatory role of proteinase-activated receptor 1 in experimental bladder inflammation 
BMC Physiology  2007;7:4.
In general, inflammation plays a role in most bladder pathologies and represents a defense reaction to injury that often times is two edged. In particular, bladder neurogenic inflammation involves the participation of mast cells and sensory nerves. Increased mast cell numbers and tryptase release represent one of the prevalent etiologic theories for interstitial cystitis and other urinary bladder inflammatory conditions. The activity of mast cell-derived tryptase as well as thrombin is significantly increased during inflammation. Those enzymes activate specific G-protein coupled proteinase-activated receptors (PAR)s.
Four PARs have been cloned so far, and not only are all four receptors highly expressed in different cell types of the mouse urinary bladder, but their expression is altered during experimental bladder inflammation. We hypothesize that PARs may link mast cell-derived proteases to bladder inflammation and, therefore, play a fundamental role in the pathogenesis of cystitis.
Here, we demonstrate that in addition to the mouse urinary bladder, all four PA receptors are also expressed in the J82 human urothelial cell line. Intravesical administration of PAR-activating peptides in mice leads to an inflammatory reaction characterized by edema and granulocyte infiltration. Moreover, the inflammatory response to intravesical instillation of known pro-inflammatory stimuli such as E. coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS), substance P, and antigen was strongly attenuated by PAR1-, and to a lesser extent, by PAR2-deficiency.
Our results reveal an overriding participation of PAR1 in bladder inflammation, provide a working model for the involvement of downstream signaling, and evoke testable hypotheses regarding the role of PARs in bladder inflammation. It remains to be determined whether or not mechanisms targeting PAR1 gene silencing or PAR1 blockade will ameliorate the clinical manifestations of cystitis.
PMCID: PMC1853108  PMID: 17397548
4.  Regulatory network of inflammation downstream of proteinase-activated receptors 
BMC Physiology  2007;7:3.
Protease-activated receptors (PAR) are present in the urinary bladder, and their expression is altered in response to inflammation. PARs are a unique class of G protein-coupled that carry their own ligands, which remain cryptic until unmasked by proteolytic cleavage. Although the canonical signal transduction pathway downstream of PAR activation and coupling with various G proteins is known and leads to the rapid transcription of genes involved in inflammation, the effect of PAR activation on the downstream transcriptome is unknown.
We have shown that intravesical administration of PAR-activating peptides leads to an inflammatory reaction characterized by edema and granulocyte infiltration. Moreover, the inflammatory response to intravesical instillation of known pro-inflammatory stimuli such as E. coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS), substance P (SP), and antigen was strongly attenuated by PAR1- and to a lesser extent by PAR2-deficiency.
Here, cDNA array experiments determined inflammatory genes whose expression is dependent on PAR1 activation. For this purpose, we compared the alteration in gene expression in wild type and PAR1-/- mice induced by classical pro-inflammatory stimuli (LPS, SP, and antigen). 75 transcripts were considered to be dependent on PAR-1 activation and further annotated in silico by Ingenuity Pathways Analysis (IPA) and gene ontology (GO). Selected transcripts were target validated by quantitative PCR (Q-PCR). Among PAR1-dependent transcripts, the following have been implicated in the inflammatory process: b2m, ccl7, cd200, cd63, cdbpd, cfl1, dusp1, fkbp1a, fth1, hspb1, marcksl1, mmp2, myo5a, nfkbia, pax1, plaur, ppia, ptpn1, ptprcap, s100a10, sim2, and tnfaip2. However, a balanced response to signals of injury requires a transient cellular activation of a panel of genes together with inhibitory systems that temper the overwhelming inflammation. In this context, the activation of genes such as dusp1 and nfkbia seems to counter-balance the inflammatory response to PAR activation by limiting prolonged activation of p38 MAPK and increased cytokine production. In contrast, transcripts such as arf6 and dcnt1 that are involved in the mechanism of PAR re-sensitization would tend to perpetuate the inflammatory reaction in response to common pro-inflammatory stimuli.
The combination of cDNA array results and genomic networks reveals an overriding participation of PAR1 in bladder inflammation, provides a working model for the involvement of downstream signaling, and evokes testable hypotheses regarding the transcriptome downstream of PAR1 activation.
It remains to be determined whether or not mechanisms targeting PAR1 gene silencing or PAR1 blockade will ameliorate the clinical manifestation of cystitis.
PMCID: PMC1853107  PMID: 17397547
5.  The inflammatory and normal transcriptome of mouse bladder detrusor and mucosa 
BMC Physiology  2006;6:1.
An organ such as the bladder consists of complex, interacting set of tissues and cells. Inflammation has been implicated in every major disease of the bladder, including cancer, interstitial cystitis, and infection. However, scanty is the information about individual detrusor and urothelium transcriptomes in response to inflammation. Here, we used suppression subtractive hybridizations (SSH) to determine bladder tissue- and disease-specific genes and transcriptional regulatory elements (TRE)s. Unique TREs and genes were assembled into putative networks.
It was found that the control bladder mucosa presented regulatory elements driving genes such as myosin light chain phosphatase and calponin 1 that influence the smooth muscle phenotype. In the control detrusor network the Pax-3 TRE was significantly over-represented. During development, the Pax-3 transcription factor (TF) maintains progenitor cells in an undifferentiated state whereas, during inflammation, Pax-3 was suppressed and genes involved in neuronal development (synapsin I) were up-regulated. Therefore, during inflammation, an increased maturation of neural progenitor cells in the muscle may underlie detrusor instability. NF-κB was specifically over-represented in the inflamed mucosa regulatory network. When the inflamed detrusor was compared to control, two major pathways were found, one encoding synapsin I, a neuron-specific phosphoprotein, and the other an important apoptotic protein, siva. In response to LPS-induced inflammation, the liver X receptor was over-represented in both mucosa and detrusor regulatory networks confirming a role for this nuclear receptor in LPS-induced gene expression.
A new approach for understanding bladder muscle-urothelium interaction was developed by assembling SSH, real time PCR, and TRE analysis results into regulatory networks. Interestingly, some of the TREs and their downstream transcripts originally involved in organogenesis and oncogenesis were also activated during inflammation. The latter represents an additional link between inflammation and cancer. The regulatory networks represent key targets for development of novel drugs targeting bladder diseases.
PMCID: PMC1382248  PMID: 16420690

Results 1-5 (5)