Re-established micturition reflexes show differential activation patterns after lumbosacral ventral root avulsion injury and repair in rats

Hui Yi Chang, Leif A Havton
Experimental Neurology 2008, 212 (2): 291-7
Previous studies have demonstrated that an acute implantation of lesioned lumbosacral ventral roots into the rat conus medullaris (CM) results in functional reinnervation of the lower urinary tract (LUT). Although the root implantation procedure results in a return of reflexive micturition, voiding efficiency (VE) remains incompletely recovered. Here, we performed a detailed urodynamic analysis of cystometry and external urethral sphincter (EUS) electromyography (EMG) recordings to determine underlying mechanisms for the incompletely recovered VE. For this purpose, adult female rats were studied at 12 weeks after a bilateral L5-S2 ventral root avulsion injury followed by an acute surgical implantation of the avulsed L6 and S1 ventral roots into the CM (n=6). Age-matched sham-operated rats (n=6) were included for control purposes. Compared to sham-operated controls, rats of the implanted series showed 1) reflex bladder contractions with a significantly shortened urine expulsion phase, 2) markedly decreased phasic EUS EMG activity during micturition, and 3) a pronounced bladder-sphincter dys-coordination, as demonstrated by a significantly delayed onset of the switch from low-amplitude tonic EUS EMG activity to either phasic EUS EMG activity or a large-amplitude tonic EUS EMG activity during the urine expulsion phase. Our findings provide a mechanistic explanation for the incomplete recovery of the VE following implantation of avulsed ventral roots into the spinal cord. Our future studies will aim to increase successful axonal regeneration in attempts to augment the recovery of the LUT after cauda equina injury and repair.

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