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Papers of the Week

Papers: 13 Mar 2021 - 19 Mar 2021

Animal Studies

2021 Mar 16

J Neurosci

Activation of MrgprA3 and MrgprC11 on bladder-innervating afferents induces peripheral and central hypersensitivity to bladder distension.


Grundy L, Caldwell A, Garcia-Caraballo S, Grundy D, Spencer NJ, Dong X, Castro J, Harrington AM, Brierley SM
J Neurosci. 2021 Mar 16.
PMID: 33727332.


Understanding the sensory mechanisms innervating the bladder is paramount to developing efficacious treatments for chronic bladder hypersensitivity conditions. The contribution of Mas-gene-related G protein-coupled receptors (Mrgpr) to bladder signalling is currently unknown. Using male and female mice, we show with single-cell RT-PCR that sub-populations of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons innervating the mouse bladder express (14%) and either individually or in combination, with high levels of co-expression with (81-89%). Calcium imaging studies demonstrated MrgprA3 and MrgprC11 agonists (chloroquine, BAM8-22 and neuropeptide FF) activated sub-populations of bladder-innervating DRG neurons, showing functional evidence of co-expression between MrgprA3, MrgprC11 and TRPV1. In bladder-nerve preparations chloroquine, BAM8-22 and neuropeptide FF all evoked mechanical hypersensitivity in sub-populations (20-41%) of bladder afferents. These effects were absent in recordings from mice. whole-cell patch clamp recordings showed that application of an MrgprA3/C11 agonist cocktail induced neuronal hyper-excitability in 44% of bladder-innervating DRG neurons. Finally, instillation of an MrgprA3/C11 agonist cocktail into the bladder of wild-type mice induced a significant activation of dorsal horn neurons within the lumbosacral spinal cord, as quantified by pERK-immunoreactivity. This MrgprA3/C11 agonist-induced activation was particularly apparent within the superficial dorsal horn and the sacral parasympathetic nuclei of wild-type, but not mice. This study demonstrates, for the first time, functional expression of MrgprA3 and MrgprC11 in bladder afferents. Activation of these receptors triggers hypersensitivity to distension, a critically valuable factor for therapeutic target development.Determining how bladder afferents become sensitized is the first step in finding effective treatments for common urological disorders such as overactive bladder and interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome. Here we show that two of the key receptors, MrgprA3 and MrgprC11, that mediate itch from the skin are also expressed on afferents innervating the bladder. Activation of these receptors results in sensitization of bladder afferents, resulting in sensory signals being sent into the spinal cord that prematurely indicate bladder fullness. Targeting bladder afferents expressing MrgprA3 or MrgprC11 and preventing their sensitisation may provide a novel approach for treating overactive bladder and interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome.