Intravesical administration of the cytotoxic drug doxorubicin is a common treatment for superficial carcinoma of the bladder, but it is associated with significant urological adverse effects. The aim of this study was to identify doxorubicin-induced changes in the local mechanisms involved in regulating bladder function. As a model of intravesical doxorubicin administration in patients, doxorubicin (1 mg/mL) was applied to the luminal surface of porcine bladders for 60 min. Following treatment, the release of urothelial/lamina propria mediators (acetylcholine (Ach), ATP and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and contractile responses of isolated tissue strips was investigated. Doxorubicin pretreatment did not affect contractile responses of detrusor muscle to carbachol, but did enhance neurogenic detrusor responses to electrical field stimulation (219 % at 5 Hz). Contractions of isolated strips of urothelium/lamina propria to carbachol were also enhanced (30 %) in tissues from doxorubicin pretreated bladders. Isolated strips of urothelium/lamina propria from control bladders demonstrated a basal release of all three mediators (Ach > ATP > PGE2), with increased release of ATP when tissues were stretched. In tissues from doxorubicin-pretreated bladders, the basal release of ATP was significantly enhanced (sevenfold), while the release of acetylcholine and PGE2 was not affected. The application of luminal doxorubicin, under conditions that mimic intravesical administration to patients, affects urothelial/lamina propria function (increased contractile activity and ATP release) and enhances efferent neurotransmission without affecting detrusor smooth muscle. These actions would enhance bladder contractile activity and sensory nerve activity and may explain the adverse urological effects observed in patients following intravesical doxorubicin treatment.
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