Long-lasting desensitization of bladder afferents following intravesical resiniferatoxin and capsaicin in the rat

R. M. Craft, S. M. Cohen, F. Porreca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


The present study was conducted to determine whether long-lasting desensitization of bladder afferents could be achieved using a single local application of the capsaicin (CAP)-like irritant resiniferatoxin (RTX), and to compare the effects of RTX and CAP on behavioral and histological endpoints. While rats were anesthetized, vehicle (VEH), RTX (10-100 nmol) or CAP (10-100 μmol) was instilled in the bladder (intravesical, i.ves.) via a cannula surgically implanted into the bladder dome. Beginning 1 week after treatment, once per week for 4 weeks, rats were tested behaviorally for desensitization to i.ves. RTX (10 nmol) using the abdominal lick test. Rats pretreated with low doses of RTX and CAP were partially desensitized at week 1; desensitization diminished over weeks 2-3. In contrast, rats pretreated with high doses of RTX or CAP were more completely desensitized at week 1, and desensitization did not diminish by week 4. Separate groups of rats tested 8 weeks after treatment showed substantial recovery. Rats pretreated with RTX but tested only with VEH for the first 3 weeks showed desensitization at week 4 approximately equivalent to that of RTX-treated rats tested with RTX every week. Sensitivity of corneal afferents to RTX (1.0 μg/ml) at week 4 was not different between VEH- and RTX- or CAP-treated rats. Gross and histological examination of bladder tissue indicated that both RTX and CAP produced inflammation, which diminished in a dose- and time-dependent manner (1-8 weeks post-treatment). The present study demonstrates that a single, local exposure to RTX produces desensitization of bladder afferents that lasts approximately 2 months, and that intervening exposures to a 10-fold lower dose do not significantly enhance desensitization. RTX is approximately 1000 times more potent than CAP in producing desensitization in this behavioral model, but only 100-300 times more potent in producing tissue inflammation, suggesting that RTX may be superior to CAP as a desensitization therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-323
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1995


  • Bladder
  • Capsaicin
  • Desensitization
  • Resiniferatoxin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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