Frequency-dependent selection of reflexes by pudendal afferents in the cat

Authors


Corresponding author W. M. Grill: Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, Box 90281, Durham, NC 27708-0281, USA. Email: warren.grill@duke.edu

Abstract

Activation of urethral or genital afferents of the pudendal nerve can elicit or inhibit micturition, and low frequency stimulation of the compound pudendal nerve (PN) is known to produce a continence response. The present study demonstrates that PN stimulation also can elicit a micturition-like response and that the response to PN stimulation is dependent on stimulation frequency. We measured the changes in bladder pressure and external urethral sphincter (EUS) electroneurogram (ENG) evoked by PN stimulation before and up to 16 h after spinal cord transection (SCT) in cats anaesthetized with α-chloralose. Low frequency (10 Hz) stimulation elicited a continence-like response, including inhibition of the bladder and activation of the EUS, but mid-frequency (33 Hz) stimulation produced a micturition-like response, including excitation of the bladder without activation of the EUS. The dependence of the response on stimulus frequency was linked to interpulse interval as the same number of pulses at 10, 33 and 100 Hz produced different responses. Stimulation of the PN at 33 Hz produced bladder contractions before and 8 h after SCT provided the bladder contained a minimum volume of fluid. Only mid-range frequency stimulation with sufficient stimulus train duration produced a reduction in EUS ENG activity before and after SCT. In addition to a continence-like response, PN stimulation can also elicit a micturition-like response, and this response is dependent on stimulation frequency, stimulus train duration, and bladder volume. The ability to control the two principal functions of the bladder by pudendal nerve stimulation is an exciting prospect for neurorehabilitation.

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