This study was conducted to investigate the possible neurotransmitter that activates the descending pathways coming from the dorsolateral pontine tegmentum (DPT) to modulate spinal pelvic-urethra reflex potentiation. External urethra sphincter electromyogram (EUSE) activity in response to test stimulation (TS, 1/30 Hz) and repetitive stimulation (RS, 1 Hz) on the pelvic afferent nerve of 63 anesthetized rats were recorded with or without microinjection of nicotinic cholinergic receptor (nAChR) agonists, ACh and nicotine, to the DPT. TS evoked a baseline reflex activity with a single action potential (1.00 ± 0.00 spikes/stimulation, n = 40), whereas RS produced a long-lasting reflex potentiation (16.14 ± 0.96 spikes/stimulation, n = 40) that was abolished by D-2-amino-5-phosphonovaleric acid (1.60 ± 0.89 spikes/stimulation, n = 40) and was attenuated by 2,3-dihydroxy-6-nitro-7-sulfamoyl-benzo (F) quinoxaline (7.10 ± 0.84 spikes/stimulation, n = 40). ACh and nicotine microinjections to DPT both produced facilitation on the RS-induced reflex potentiation (23.57 ± 2.23 and 28.29 ± 2.36 spikes/stimulation, P <0.01, n = 10 and 20, respectively). Pretreatment of selective nicotinic receptor antagonist, chlorisondamine, reversed the facilitation on RS-induced reflex potentiation caused by nicotine (19.41 ± 1.21 spikes/stimulation, P <0.01, n = 10) Intrathecal WAY-100635 and spinal transection at the T 1 level both abolished the facilitation on reflex potentiation resulting from the DPT nicotine injection (12.86 ± 3.13 and 15.57 ± 1.72 spikes/stimulation, P <0.01, n = 10 each). Our findings suggest that activation of nAChR at DPT may modulate N-methyl-D-aspartic acid-dependent reflex potentiation via descending serotonergic neurotransmission. This descending modulation may have physiological/ pathological relevance in the neural controls of urethral closure.
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