Purpose: c-fos expression in spinal neurons that are activated by lower urinary tract stimulation are not organ specific. In this experiment, we demonstrated changes of c-fos expression in bladder-specific preganglionic neurons (PGNs) and interneurons using pseudorabies virus (PRV). Materials and Methods: Forty Sprague-Dawley rats were used. We identified the neuronal pathway associated with the bladder by injecting PRV into the detrusor. An immunohistochemical method was used to stain Fos-protein encoded by the c-fos gene. Immunofluorescent staining for PRV was performed to evaluate changes in bladder-specific spinal neurons. Results: Immunofluorescent staining with choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) revealed that the sacral parasympathetic nucleus (SPN) regions contained 9.8 PGNS/section. In rats with chronic spinal cord injury by intravesical saline instillation, 82.4 ± 10.3% of PGNs in SPN exhibited Fos-immunoreactive (IR). Two and a half days after PRV infection, PRV-IR PGNs were observed at 5.4 PGNs/section, and 2.7 ± 1.6% of them exhibited Fos-IR. Unlike ChAT-IR PGNs, PRV-fR PGNs are bladder-specific neurons and PRV-IR and Fos-IR cells found in the back of PRV-IR PGNs are bladder-specific interneurons. Three days after PRV infection, we observed many PRV-IR and Fos-IR cells in the dorsal commissure. These neurons are interneurons distributed in the bladder. Conclusion: We confirmed that in chronic spinal cord injury, the patterns of c-fos expression in bladder-specific spinal neurons were similar to those in voiding-reflex related spinal neurons, which had already been demonstrated earlier. We believe that our methodology can be applied to study interactions between voiding and other organs as well, such as the urethra and prostate.
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