This study examined reflex mechanisms that mediate urinary bladder and external urethral sphincter (EUS) coordination in female Sprague-Dawley urethane-anesthetized rats under empty and distended bladder conditions. The bladder was distended either by a small balloon or a saline filled catheter inserted through the body of the bladder. Stimulation of the entire pudendal nerve elicited short latency (8-12 ms) responses in the EUS and short (3-8 ms) and long latency responses (16-20 ms) in contralateral pudendal nerve. The long latency pudendal-pudendal reflex was reduced by 36.7% in area during bladder distension with the balloon catheter. However, there was no significant change in the area of pudendal-EUS reflex during bladder distension. Peak amplitudes of both reflexes were reduced 32% by bladder distension. The effects of glutamatergic receptor antagonists on the reflexes were also examined. MK801 (0.3-5 mg/kg, i.v.), an N-methyl-d-aspartate glutamatergic receptor antagonist, markedly depressed the pudendal-pudendal reflex, but LY215490 (3 mg/kg, i.v.), an alpha-amino-5-methyl isoxazole-4-propionate antagonist, had a minimal inhibitory effect. Both glutamatergic receptor antagonists significantly suppressed the pudendal-EUS reflex. These results indicate that the EUS is innervated by multiple pathways and that glutamatergic excitatory transmission is important in the neural mechanisms underlying bladder-sphincter coordination in the rat.
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