Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2009

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Gerald F. Gebhart

First Committee Member

Gerald F Gebhart

Second Committee Member

Christopher Benson

Third Committee Member

Timothy Brennan

Fourth Committee Member

Michael O'Donnell

Fifth Committee Member

Yuriy M Usachev


Interstitial cystitis (IC)/painful bladder syndrome (PBS) is a functional visceral disorder characterized by increased bladder activity and chronic pelvic pain in the absence of a pathobiological condition. Enhanced sensory transduction of peripheral bladder afferents is hypothesized to contribute to the pain and mechanical hypersensitivity of IC/PBS patients. The aim of this thesis is to test the hypothesis that purinergic receptors, including ionotropic P2X and metabotropic P2Y, are important for sensory transmission in bladder afferent neurons and may be involved in bladder hypersensitivity after bladder tissue insults. Electrophysiological, single cell RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry techniques were performed in bladder afferent neurons from naïve and bladder inflamed mice to test the hypothesis.

In Chapter 2, I characterized the distribution and function of P2X receptors in thoracolumbar (TL) and lumbosacral (LS) dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons innervating the urinary bladder, and found that LS and TL bladder neurons have differential purinergic signaling and distinct membrane electrical properties. In Chapter 3, I examined the sensitization of bladder afferent neurons and the plasticity of P2X receptor function in a mouse model of chemical induced bladder inflammation. P2X-mediated signals in LS and TL bladder neurons after bladder inflammation were enhanced compared with those in saline-treated controls, suggesting the importance of P2X in bladder hypersensitivity associated with cystitis. In Chapter 4, the modulation of P2Y on P2X function and the co-localization of P2Y and P2X were examined in bladder sensory neurons. It has been found that P2Y2 receptor enhances bladder sensory neuron excitability and facilitates the response of homomeric P2X2 receptor to the purinergic agonist (ATP). The present study provides evidence that LS and TL mouse bladder sensory neurons exhibit distinct P2X signaling, and the function of P2X receptors could be facilitated during bladder inflammation and modulated by activation of P2Y2 receptor, indicating an involvement of P2X and P2Y2 receptors as mechano- and chemosensors in bladder sensory transmission under normal conditions and in bladder hypersensitivity associated with inflammation.


Bladder, Interstitial cystitis, P2X, P2Y, Pain, Patch clamp


xi,144 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 134-144).


Copyright 2009 Xiaowei Chen