Effects of benzalkonium chloride treatment on the intramural innervation of the upper urinary tract


Professor Prem Puri, Children's Research Centre, Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, Dublin 12, Ireland.
e-mail: ppuri@crumlin.ucd.ie



To establish a model for investigating the pathophysiology of pelvi-ureteric junction (PUJ) obstruction, using benzalkonium chloride (BCI) treatment of the upper urinary tract of rabbits, and thus further elucidate the pathophysiology of PUJ obstruction, the most common urinary tract obstruction in children.


Although various histological abnormalities have been described, PUJ obstruction may be functional. Defective innervation in PUJ has been suggested to be a major factor in the failure to transmit peristaltic waves across the PUJ. Previously established animal models of hydronephrosis deal mostly with surgical obstruction of the PUJ, which does not correlate with human congenital hydronephrosis. BCl has been used to ablate selectively neurones of the gastrointestinal myenteric plexus, which generated spastic segments with impaired peristalsis. Thus 12 rabbits were treated with BCl at the PUJ; the right upper urinary tract was dissected extraperitoneally and treated with a local application of 0.1% or 0.5% BCl (six each) for 15 min. The controls were four sham-operated animals treated with saline. The animals were assessed by intravenous urography (IVU) at 4 and 8 weeks after treatment, after which the animals were killed, the upper urinary tracts removed and whole-mounts prepared. Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) histochemistry, and neurofilament and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) single-enzyme immunohistochemistry were used to detect the intrinsic innervation.


None of the animals had hydronephrosis on the IVU or at death. AChE histochemistry, TH and neurofilament immunohistochemistry showed no or very few nerve fibres within the BCl-treated PUJs in both (0.1% and 0.5%) groups. After saline treatment there was normal development of the neuronal plexus within the submucosal, muscular and adventitial layers of the upper urinary tract.


These results suggest that treatment with BCl is useful for ablating the intrinsic innervation in the upper urinary tract. Defective intrinsic innervation of the upper urinary tract did not lead to clinically or radiologically evident hydronephrosis. Further physiological studies using this model are needed to further elucidate the neuronal and myogenic influence on the development of PUJ obstruction.