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Age-related changes in the lower urinary tract (LUT) can affect the coordination of reflexes and increase the incidence of bladder disorders in elderly. This study examines the age-related loss of urethral signaling capability by measuring the afferent activity directly. We find that less urethral pressure develops in response to fluid flow in old rats compared to young rats and that pressure and flow evoke less urethral afferent activation. These findings are consistent with our previous study demonstrating that the urethra-to-bladder reflex, which is required for efficient voiding, becomes weaker with age. We measured the pudendal afferent response in young (4–7 months) and old (18–24 months) rats to fluid flow in the urethra across a range of flow rates. We used paraffin embedding and hematoxylin and eosin staining to quantify age-related changes in the sensory branch of the pudendal nerve. Urethral afferent signaling in response to the same urethral flow rates was weaker in older animals. That is, the sensitivity of urethra afferents to flow decreased with age, and higher flow rates were required in older animals to recruit urethra afferents. There was also a reduction in the myelin thickness of pudendal afferents in old rats, which is a possible contributing factor to the sensory activity. Furthermore, the same flow rates evoked less pressure in the urethras of old animals, indicating there is an age-related change of the urethral tissue that reduces the pressure stimulus to which these afferents respond. These results help characterize the underlying changes in LUT system with age.
Geramipour, Arezoo and Danziger, Zachary C., "Age is associated with reduced urethral pressure and afferent activity in rat" (2021). All Faculty. 305.