Aims The aims of the present study were to investigate voiding patterns, tissue constituents and the expressions of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and nitric oxide synthase (NOS) involved in ketamine-induced ulcerative cystitis in rat urinary bladder. Methods Thirty Sprague-Dawley rats were distributed into three groups which received saline or ketamine (25 mg/kg/day) for a period of 14 and 28 days. In each group, cystometry was performed weekly and the concentration of ketamine and its metabolites (norketamine) was assayed. Paraffin-embedded sections were stained with Masson's trichrome stain, and ketamine-induced morphological changes were examined. Western blot analyses were carried out to examine the expressions of COX-2 and different NOS isoforms in bladder tissues. Immunofluorescence study was done to evaluate the expressions of COX-2 and macrophage infiltration (stained with ED-1 macrophage cell surface antigen) within the bladder. Results Ketamine treatment resulted in bladder hyperactivity and the non-voiding contractions were significantly increased. The urine concentrations of ketamine and norketamine were much higher in ketamine-treated group. Moreover, ulcerated urothelium and mononuclear cell infiltration were noted in ketamine-treated group. These alterations in urodynamic functions and tissue constituents were accompanied by increases in the expression of COX-2. Two NOS isoforms (iNOS and eNOS) were also overexpressed, but no significant change was observed for nNOS. COX-2 positive stained cells were significantly increased. Meanwhile, increased amounts of ED-1 positive stained macrophages were present and most of COX-2 expressed cells were co-stained with ED-1 in the early stage of ketamine treatment. Conclusions Ketamine treatment affected bladder tissues by enhancing interstitial fibrosis and accelerating macrophages infiltration. Ketamine also initiated the up-regulations of COX-2 and iNOS and eNOS expressions. These up-regulated enzymes might play an important role in contributing to ketamine-induced alterations in micturition patterns and ulcerative cystitis.
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