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Neurosci Res. 1995 Sep; 23(2): 159-69.

Long-lasting facilitation and depression of periurethral skeletal muscle following acupuncture-like stimulation in anesthetized rats.

Morrison JF, Sato A, Sato Y, Suzuki A.

Department of Physiology, University of Leeds, UK.

The effects of acupuncture-like stimulation on the tone of the partially filled bladder and on the periurethral electromyogram (EMG) were examined in urethane-anesthetized rats. Acupuncture-like stimuli were usually applied to the skin and underlying muscles (or other structures), either separately or together, for a period of 1 min; the effects were studied in spinal cord intact and in spinalized animals. Maps have been constructed showing the effects of acupuncture-like stimulation at different sites on the body surface and of similar stimulation applied to individual muscles, the urethra and the testis. When acupuncture-like stimuli were applied to the skin and underlying structures, in the rostral half of the body and the hindpaw, testis or urethra, these stimuli usually induced excitation of periurethral EMG activity. Depression of EMG activity was seen predominantly during stimulation of structures close to the urethra, but not opposed to it. When acupuncture-like stimuli were applied only to structure beneath the skin, depression of EMG activity usually occurred. Acupuncture-like stimulation of the bulbocavernosus, which partly overlies the proximal urethra produced depression of EMG activity in 50% of trials, but the incidence of similar effects from the more distant pubococcygeus, or the dorsal or ventral sacrococcygeal muscles was about 90-100%. Acupuncture-like stimulation for 1 min could produce either excitation or depression of periurethral EMG activity lasting about 5 or 6 min, depending on the site of insertion and rotation of the acupuncture needles. Excitation of short duration (less than 3 min) was consistently observed from areas of the body distant to the bladder, i.e. the nose, forepaw, forelimb, chest, abdominal wall and hindpaw. Longer lasting excitation of EMG activity was often seen from the penile urethra, perineal area and hindlimb. Depression of EMG activity with a duration of more than 3 min was consistently seen from the muscles at the base of the tail (sacrococcygeus) and perineal area (pubococcygeus and bulbocavernosus). The bladder was partially filled in these experiments, so that micturition contractions were never seen; acupuncture-like stimulation of the perineal area induced some increase in bladder tone in 40% of trials. In spinalized animals, the pattern of activity induced by acupuncture-like stimulation was similar to that seen in spinal cord intact animals and the durations of the effects were not significantly different in these two groups. The distribution of sites from which acupuncture-like stimuli can influence the activity of the lower urinary tract is discussed.


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