Immunity to nerve growth factor prevents afferent plasticity following urinary bladder hypertrophy

William D. Steers, Douglas J. Creedon, Jeremy B. Tuttle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


Purpose: The goal of this investigation was to examine the effect of immunity to nerve growth factor (NGF) on alterations in sensory nerves from the urinary bladder in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and their projections to the L6/S1 spinal cord following urethral obstruction in the rat. Materials and Methods: Female Wistar rats were immunized to murine 2.5S NGF, then obstructed by partial urethral ligation for 6 weeks. Retrograde axonal tracing with FluoroGold and WGA-HRP was used to measure areas of bladder DRG cells and afferent projections in the sacral spinal cord. Multiunit activity on bladder nerves allowed recording of micturition reflexes. Immunohistochemical staining for growth associated protein (GAP)-43 in the sacral parasympathetic nucleus (SPN) was used to assess potential growth or activity of axons in the spinal cord. Voiding frequencies were then measured in awake obstructed and NGF immune-obstructed rats. Results: Immunity to NGF prevented obstruction-induced hypertrophy of DRG neurons, reduced retrograde axonal labeling of sacral afferent projections, eliminated enhancement of a spinal micturition reflex and abolished the increased GAP-43 expression in the SPN. Immunity to NGF prevented the urinary frequency that accompanies obstruction. Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that obstruction of the bladder elicits structural and functional plasticity in afferents as a result of ongoing neurotrophic interactions. Neurotrophic interactions offer a potential mechanism whereby symptoms and bladder hyperactivity develop with obstruction associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-385
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Ganglia, spinal
  • Muscle, smooth
  • Nerve growth factors
  • Spinal cord
  • Urination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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