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Neurosci Res. 1992 Nov; 15(3): 189-98.

Mechanism of the reflex inhibition of micturition contractions of the urinary bladder elicited by acupuncture-like stimulation in anesthetized rats.

Sato A, Sato Y, Suzuki A.

Department of Autonomic Nervous System, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, Japan.

The effects of acupuncture-like stimulation of various segmental areas on the rhythmic micturition contractions (RMCs) of the urinary bladder were examined in anesthetized rats. The urinary bladder was cannulated via the urethra and expanded by infusing saline until the urinary bladder produced micturition contractions rhythmically as a consequence of the rhythmic burst discharges of the vesical pelvic efferent nerves. An acupuncture needle, having a diameter of either 160 or 340 microns, was inserted to a depth of about 4-5 mm into the skin and underlying muscles at various segmental areas, rostrally from the face then caudally to the hindlimb. Once being inserted, the needle was twisted left and right with the fingers about once every second for 1 min. (1) Acupuncture-like stimulation applied to the perineal area inhibited both the RMCs and the rhythmic burst discharges of vesical pelvic efferent nerves without any significant changes in the hypogastric efferent nerve activity. By contrast, stimulation applied to the face, neck, forelimb, chest, abdomen, back, and hindlimb areas was ineffective. (2) After surgically separating the perineal skin from the underlying muscles with the main cutaneous nerve branches intact, stimulation of either the perineal skin or the perineal muscles inhibited the RMCs. Stimulation of the perineal muscles produced a stronger inhibition of the RMCs than that of the perineal skin. (3) Stimulation of the perineal area increased afferent nerve activity, either recorded from the pudendal nerve branches innervating the perineal skin or underlying muscles, or recorded from the pelvic nerve branches innervating the perineal muscles. (4) The stimulation-induced inhibition of the RMCs was abolished after surgically severing both pudendal and pelvic nerve branches that innervated the perineal skin and underlying muscles. (5) The present findings indicate that the inhibition of the RMCs following acupuncture-like stimulation of the perineal area is a reflex response characterized by segmental organization. The afferent arcs of the reflex are both pelvic and pudendal nerve branches innervating the perineal skin and underlying muscles, while the efferent arcs are pelvic nerve branches innervating the urinary bladder.

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