• BPS/IC May Be Linked

    Warren JW. Bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis as a functional somatic syndrome. J Psychosom Res. 2014 Dec;77(6):510-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2014.10.003. Epub 2014 Oct 14. PMID: 25455811
    In this study, investigators attempted to determine whether bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis (BPS/IC) has the characteristics of a functional somatic syndrome (FSS), for which there is no accepted definition. FSS was found to have 18 characteristics. Of those evaluated, BPS/IC patients had all but two. Ninety percent of BPS/IC patients without a Hunner's lesion have all the characteristics of an FSS. Conversely, several additional features of BPS/IC were found in FSSs also. These results suggest that BPS/IC in some patients might best be understood as an FSS. In addition, further exploration into the links might contribute to understanding the pathogenesis of BPS/IC, and therapies that are useful in FSSs also may be useful in some cases of BPS/IC. It also indicates that patients with FSSs are at risk for BPS/IC and may benefit from future preventive strategies.

  • NUAS and Symptom Severity in UCPPS are Related

    Krieger JN, Stephens AJ, Landis JR, Clemens JQ, Kreder K, Lai HH, Afari N, Rodríguez L, Schaeffer A, Mackey S, Andriole GL, Williams DA; MAPP Research Network. Relationship between chronic non-urological associated somatic syndromes (NUAS) and symptom severity in urological chronic pelvic pain syndromes: Baseline evaluation of the Multidisciplinary Approach to the Study of Chronic Pelvic Pain (MAPP) study. J Urol. 2014 Oct 22. pii: S0022-5347(14)04767-3. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2014.10.086. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 25444992
    Of 424 urological chronic pelvic pain syndromes (UCPPS) participants, 162 (38%) had non-urological associated somatic syndromes (NUAS): 93 (22%) irritable bowel syndrome, 15 (4%) fibromyalgia, 13 (3%) chronic fatigue syndrome, and 41 (10%) with multiple syndromes. Among 233 females, 103 (44%) had NUAS compared to 59 (31%) of 191 males (p = 0.006). Participants with NUAS had more severe urological symptoms, and more frequent depression and anxiety. Of 424 participants, 228 (54%) met RAND IC Epidemiology Study (RICE) criteria. Among 228 RICE-positive participants, 108 (47%) had NUAS compared to 54 (28%) of 203 RICE-negative patients with NUAS (p < 0.001). Given these results, the researchers concluded that NUAS represent important clinical characteristics of UCPPS. UCPPS participants with NUAS were found to have more severe symptoms, longer duration and higher rates of depression and anxiety. RICE-positive patients are more likely to have NUAS and more severe symptoms. Because NUAS are more common in women, future studies need to account for this potential confounding factor in UCPPS.

  • Potential Genetic Link Between IC and Related Conditions

    Allen-Brady K, Norton PA, Cannon-Albright L. Risk of Associated Conditions in Relatives of Subjects with Interstitial Cystitis. Female Pelvic Med Reconstr Surg. 2014 Oct 27. [Epub ahead of print]
    To determine the risk of inheriting any of the 20 conditions associated with IC, researchers used a genealogical database (the Utah Population Database) to track IC and its co-morbidities in families. Among the 248 IC probands (a person serving as the starting point for the genetic study of a family), the study found a higher rate of fibromyalgia and constipation among the patients themselves, as well as among their first and second-degree relatives. Conversely, they also found a higher risk of IC among the first and second-degree relatives of the probands who had fibromyalgia and constipation. The results suggest that IC, fibromyalgia, and constipation may share underlying genetic factors.

  • Scientists Find Brain-muscle Link that May Help Them Understand CPP

    Asavasopon S, Rana M, Kirages DJ, Yani MS, Fisher BE, Hwang DH, Lohman EB, Berk LS, Kutch JJ. Cortical activation associated with muscle synergies of the human male pelvic floor. J Neurosci. 2014 Oct 8;34(41):13811-8. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2073-14.2014.
    Research shows a connection in the brain between the pelvic floor and other muscles throughout the body that may lead to a better understanding of the causes of chronic abdominal and pelvic pain. Although muscles as far away as the toes activated the pelvic floor, the strongest connection was with the glutes. Using fMRI, scientists were able to see the part of the brain that was activated through both voluntary and involuntary muscle contractions in the pelvic floor and glutes. They hope this research will further our understanding of chronic pelvic pain, as well as other pelvic conditions such as incontinence.

  • Study Finds Differences in Gray Matter Among Women with IC

    Kairys AE, Schmidt-Wilcke T, Puiu T, et al. Increased brain gray matter in the primary somatosensory cortex is associated with increased pain and mood disturbance in interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome patients. J Urol. 2014 Aug 14. pii: S0022-5347(14)04213-X. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2014.08.042. [Epub ahead of print]
    Using structural MRI, researchers looked at the brains of 33 women with IC and 33 controls, and found that the women with IC had significant increased gray matter volume in several regions of the brain. Among these patients, the increased gray matter in the right primary somatosensory cortex was associated with greater pain, anxiety, and feelings of urgency.

  • Researchers Identify Two IC Phenotypes Based on Location of Pain

    Nickel JC, Tripp DA. Clinical and psychological parameters associated with pain pattern phenotypes in women with interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS). J Urol. 2014 Aug 1. pii: S0022-5347(14)04148-2. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2014.07.108. [Epub ahead of print] 
    Researchers used body pain location mapping and medical and psychosocial phenotyping with a group of 173 IC patients to verify two distinct phenotypes of IC: pelvic pain only (PP Only) and pelvic pain and beyond (PP Beyond). About 80 percent of those in the PP Beyond group had decreased quality of life and greater pain, depression, and sleep disturbance, compared to only 19 percent in the PP Only group. They also had a higher prevalence of comorbidities. The authors suggest that identifying patients as either PP Only or PP Beyond may help with IC management.

  • Urinary Toxic Factors More Prevalent and More Severe in IC

    Parsons CL, Shaw T, Berecz Z, et al. Role of urinary cations in the aetiology of bladder symptoms and interstitial cystitis. BJU Int. 2014 Aug;114(2):286-93. doi: 10.1111/bju.12603. Epub 2014 Apr 16.
    This study found that the urine of patients with IC contained twice the amount of cationic metabolites, or toxic factors, than that of the control group; the metabolites from those with IC were also more toxic than those from the controls. The study involved 62 IC patients and 33 controls, and in addition to measuring the amount and toxicity of the metabolites, also identified the specific metabolites present in both groups. This data may provide a framework for IC treatment targeting the toxic factors.

  • Active Men Have Lower Risk of CP

    Zhang R, Chomistek AK, Dimitrakoff JD, et. al. Physical Activity and Chronic Prostatitis/Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014 Aug 10. [Epub ahead of print] 
    Middle-aged and older men who are moderately to vigorously active during their leisure time have a lower incidence of chronic prostatitis than those who are sedentary, according to a prospective cohort study involving more than 20,000 men who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study from 1986-2008.

  • Vulvitis Linked to UTIs in Young Girls

    Gorbachinsky I, Sherertz R, Russell G, Krane S, Hodges S. Altered perineal biome is associated with vulvovaginitis and urinary tract infection in preadolescent girls. Therapeutic Advances in Urology, 1756287214542097, first published on July 16, 2014.
    Girls who have vulvitis (a red, itchy rash on the outer genitals) are eight times more likely to develop a urinary tract infection (UTI), according to a study of 101 girls aged 2-8. Researchers cultured bacteria from periurethral swabs and urine specimens from 58 girls with vulvitis and 43 without. Fifty-two percent of those with vulvitis tested positive for UTI, compared to 11 percent of those without. The researchers suggest that vulvitis may cause UTIs by altering the type of bacteria normally found in the area between the vagina and anus.

  • Inflammatory Response Linked to IC

    Schrepf A, O’Donnell M, Luo Y, Bradley CS, Kreder K, Lutgendorf S. Inflammation and inflammatory control in interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome: Associations with painful symptoms. Pain. 2014 Jun 5. pii: S0304-3959(14)00262-0. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2014.05.029. [Epub ahead of print]
    Researchers from the University of Iowa found higher levels of toll-like receptors (TLR), especially TLR-4, and other markers of inflammation among women with IC, suggesting that an inflammatory response may play a role in IC. The study was part of the Multidisciplinary Approach to Pelvic Pain (MAPP) study, and involved 51 IC patients and 28 healthy controls. TLR are proteins involved in the body’s immune response, and according to this research, TLR-4 appears to play a key role in painful IC symptoms.

  • NGF Level Reflects Severity of IC Symptoms

    Kim SW, Im YJ, Choi HC, Kang HJ, Kim JY, Kim H. Urinary nerve growth factor correlates with the severity of urgency and pain. Int Urogynecol J. 2014 May 28. [Epub ahead of print]
    Results of a study of potential IC biomarkers revealed that levels of urinary nerve growth factor (NGF) are directly related to the severity of urinary urgency among IC and OAB patients, and pain among IC patients. The South Korean study was conducted with 83 patients with lower urinary tract symptoms including those with OAB and IC, and a control group of 24 patients with stress urinary incontinence or microscopic hematuria. Levels of NGF and Prostaglandin E2 were assessed, but only NGF had a significant correlation with symptom severity, and only among those with OAB and IC for urgency and those with IC for pain.

  • IC Increases Risk of Heart Disease

    Chen HM, Lin CC, Kang CS, Lee CT, Lin HC, Chung SD. Bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis increases the risk of coronary heart disease. Neurourol Urodyn. 2014 Jun;33(5):511-5. doi: 10.1002/nau.22444. Epub 2013 Jun 27.
    A study of 752 IC patients and 3,760 controls revealed a higher incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD) among those with IC. The study subjects were participants in the Taiwan Longitudinal Health Insurance Database 2000. Researchers tracked each individual for 3 years and found that CHD occurred more than twice as often among IC patients (19.5 vs. 8.87 cases per 1,000 person years for IC vs. control, respectively). The study authors recommend that clinicians evaluate IC patients for CHD risk factors.

  • Vulvodynia Remission More Likely in Secondary Disease

    Nguyen RH, Mathur C, Wynings EM, Williams DA, Harlow BL. Remission of vulvar pain among women with primary vulvodynia. J Low Genit Tract Dis. 2014 May 22. [Epub ahead of print]
    Women who have primary vulvodynia (pain begins upon first tampon insertion or intercourse) are 43% less likely to experience remission from pain than women who have secondary vulvodynia (pain begins after a period of pain-free intercourse). This research suggests that different mechanisms may underlie each type of vulvodynia.

  • Oxidative Stress May Have Role in IC

    When Japanese researchers induced IC in rats using hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), they found the same changes in mRNA expressions of TRP channels as seen in the bladder mucosa patients with IC. These changes were not observed in the saline control group. H2O2 is known to cause oxidative stress and inflammation in the mouse bladder; the similarities in the bladder mucosa of rats and humans with IC suggest that oxidative stress may be a factor in IC development.

    AUA session: Urodynamics/Incontinence/Female Urology: Basic Research II
    Title: Voiding behavior and transient receptor potential (TRP) channel expressions in a novel rate model of cystitis induced by hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)
    Publication Number: MP4-07
    Authors: Rino Sugiyama*, Naoki Aizawa, Hiroki Ito, Yukio Homma, Yasuhiko Igawa, Tokyo, Japan

  • Inflammation May Play a Role in Development of IC/CP Co-morbid Pain Conditions

    Researchers found differences in inflammatory responses among people with IC and chronic prostatitis (CP) who did and did not have co-morbid pain conditions. Using data from patients enrolled in the Multidisciplinary Approach to Pelvic Pain (MAPP) study, researchers found higher plasma IL-6 levels and greater cytokine response to TLR4 stimulation among IC/CP patients who also had IBS, vulvodynia, chronic fatigue syndrome, temporomandibular joint disorder, and fibromyalgia.

    AUA Session: Infections/Inflammation of the Genitourinary Tract: Interstitial Cystitis
    Title: Inflammatory biomarkers are associated with co-morbid pain conditions in UCPPS patients: a MAPP study
    Publication Number: PD9-03
    Authors: Catherine Bradley*, Andrew Schrepf, Susan Lutgendorf, Michael O'Donnell, Yi Luo, Karl Kreder, Iowa City, IA

  • Genes Might Give Clues to IC Pathology

    Colaco M, Koslov DS, Keys T, Evans RJ, Badlani GH, Andersson KE, Walker SJ. Correlation of Gene Expression with Bladder Capacity in Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome. J Urol. 2014 May 16. pii: S0022-5347(14)03576-9. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2014.05.047. [Epub ahead of print]
    Researchers found variations in gene expressions among women with different types of IC, which may provide insight into potential causes of the disease. Microarray analysis of bladder biopsies from 16 women with and without IC showed genetic differences among women with IC who had low vs. normal bladder capacity; there were no significant differences among IC patients and controls with normal bladder capacity. The pathways related to inflammatory and immune responses were most involved.

  • Stress Response Implicated in IC and Other Related Disorders

    Martínez-Martínez LA, Mora T, Vargas A, Fuentes-Iniestra M, Martínez-Lavín M. Sympathetic nervous system dysfunction in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and interstitial cystitis: a review of case-control studies. J Clin Rheumatol. 2014 Apr;20(3):146-50. doi: 10.1097/RHU.0000000000000089.
    A literature review suggests that the body’s stress response may be involved in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and IC. The review included 196 studies, of which 65% showed a sympathetic nervous system response. The authors say these findings raise the possibility that sympathetic dysfunction could be a common underlying pathogenesis in these conditions, which may have clinical implications for treatment.

  • Vulvodynia and Orofacial Pain: Link Suggests Common Etiology

    Bair E1, Simmons E, Hartung J, Desia K, Maixner W, Zolnoun D. Natural History of Comorbid Orofacial Pain Among Women with Vestibulodynia. Clin J Pain. 2014 Feb 21. [Epub ahead of print]
    A survey taken by a group of women with vulvodynia showed that 66% of them also experienced orofacial pain (OFP), which is felt in the face or mouth. The 71 women in this study were originally part of a group of 138 patients who answered questionnaires about demographics, pain, anxiety, somatic (body) awareness, and symptoms of OFP; this study group agreed to retake the same questionnaires after a 2-year follow up period. With so many patients experiencing OFP, this research suggests the possibility that these conditions share an underlying cause.

  • IC Study Shows Link Between Inflammation, Nerve Fibers, and Symptoms

    Liu BL, Yang F, Zhan HL, Feng ZY, Zhang ZG, Li WB, Zhou XF. Increased Severity of Inflammation Correlates with Elevated Expression of TRPV1 Nerve Fibers and Nerve Growth Factor on Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome. Urol Int. 2014 Jan 23. [Epub ahead of print]
    In a study of the role of inflammation in IC, researchers found that bladder inflammation and symptoms were linked to an increased presence of immunoreactive nerve fibers and nerve growth factor. They tested bladder biopsies from 53 IC patients and 27 controls for the presence of inflammation, TRPV-1 and PGP9.5-immunoreactive nerve fibers, and nerve growth factor. All three were associated with severity of inflammation; TRPV-1 was also linked to pain and urgency scores.

  • Could Vulvodynia Be Identified Earlier? Risk Factors Give Clues

    Reed BD, Legocki LJ, Plegue MA, Sen A, Haefner HK, Harlow SK. Factors associated with vulvodynia incidence. Obstet Gynecol. 2014 Feb;123(2 Pt 1):225-31. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000000066.
    By screening a group of women who did not have vulvodynia every six months for 2.5 years, researchers at the University of Michigan identified several factors associated with later development of the disease. Those factors were: being young, Hispanic, married or living as married, and having or having had vulvar pain (but not meeting vulvodynia criteria), as well as sleep disturbances, chronic pain in general, specific comorbid pain disorders, and specific comorbid psychological disorders. These findings suggest that we might be able to identify the onset of the disease in an earlier phase of its development.

  • Cesarean Section Linked to CPP

    Li WY, Liabsuetrakul T, Stray-Pedersen B, Li YJ, Guo LJ, Qin WZ. The effects of mode of delivery and time since birth on chronic pelvic pain and health-related quality of life. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2014 Feb;124(2):139-42. doi: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2013.07.029. Epub 2013 Oct 17.
    A look at the effect of childbirth on the development of chronic pelvic pain (CPP) among first-time mothers showed that CPP was more prevalent among those who had a cesarean section, and that the rate of CPP increased the longer it had been since they gave birth. Among the 1456 Chinese women in the study, CPP occurred in 11.2% of those who had a cesarean section vs. 6.9% of those with a vaginal delivery. In terms of time since birth, CPP occurred among 2.3% at less than 1 year, 9.3% at 1-5 years, 10.7% at 6-10 years, and 13.1% at more than 10 years. Cesarean section, longer time since birth, and CPP were all associated with a lower health-related quality of life score.

  • Dysmenorrhea May Play a Role in Noncyclic Chronic Pelvic Pain

    Westling AM, Tu FF, Griffith JW, Hellman KM. The association of dysmenorrhea with noncyclic pelvic pain accounting for psychological factors. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2013 Nov;209(5):422.e1-422.e10. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2013.08.020. Epub 2013 Aug 22.
    Researchers from NorthShore University HealthSystem in Illinois found that the incidence of noncyclic (not related to menstruation) chronic pelvic pain is significantly higher among women who have dysmenorrhea (severe menstrual pain) than among those who do not. For the study, which looked at the frequency of menstrual, somatosensory, and psychological risk factors between women with and without dysmenorrhea, 1,012 women of reproductive age completed a 112-item questionnaire about mood, fatigue, physical activity, somatic (physical) complaint, and pain. The results showed that 13% of the women who had severe menstrual pain also had noncyclic pelvic pain, compared to 1% of women without dysmenorrhea. The research was able to predict 90% of cases of noncyclic pelvic pain based on the presence of dysmenorrhea, somatic complaint, and low ability for physical activity. Further research is needed to determine whether dysmenorrhea is a cause of noncyclic pelvic pain or shares underlying neural mechanisms.

  • Pain Response is Different in Women with IC

    Ness TJ, Lloyd LK, Fillingim RB. An Endogenous Pain Control System Is Altered In Subjects With Interstitial Cystitis. J Urol. 2013 Aug 20. pii: S0022-5347(13)05144-6. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2013.08.024. [Epub ahead of print]
    Researchers from the University of Alabama have found that conditioned pain modulation (CPM), a phenomenon in which pain in one part of the body inhibits pain in other parts of the body, is altered in women with IC. Studies of other chronic pain conditions—such as fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome—have shown a similar change in the body’s pain response. For this study, pain tolerance in women with and without IC was assessed by immersing one hand in ice water and then measuring their pain tolerance when heat was applied to the lower extremity on the opposite side. Women without IC had significant increases in their tolerance of heat pain, while women with IC had significant decreases in pain tolerance. This change in the body’s pain inhibitory system among those with IC (and other chronic pain conditions) suggests that a deficit in the natural pain inhibitory system may contribute to the disorder.

  • Vulvodynia Often Co-Exists with IBS and Fibromyalgia

    Nguyen RH, Veasley C, Smolenski D. Latent class analysis of comorbidity patterns among women with generalized and localized vulvodynia: preliminary findings. J Pain Res. 2013 Apr 18;6:303-9. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S42940. Print 2013.
    In a study of 1,457 women with vulvodynia, researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health found that more than half reported having at least two other conditions, with fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) being the most common. These findings may help provide insight into potential shared mechanisms involved in these three conditions.

  • BPS and Endometriosis Often Occur Together

    Tirlapur SA, Kuhrt K, Chaliha C, Ball E, Meads C, Khan KS. The 'evil twin syndrome' in chronic pelvic pain: A systematic review of prevalence studies of bladder pain syndrome and endometriosis. Int J Surg. 2013 Feb 15. pii: S1743-9191(13)00034-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ijsu.2013.02.003. [Epub ahead of print]
    In this British study, researchers searched medical databases to determine the prevalence of bladder pain syndrome (BPS) alone and the co-existence of BPS and endometriosis—nicknamed ‘evil twin syndrome’—among women with chronic pelvic pain (CPP). Their search led to nine studies that included a total of 1016 women with CPP. The mean prevalence of BPS, endometriosis, and co-existing BPS and endometriosis was 61 percent, 70 percent, and 48 percent, respectively. The researchers concluded that BPS often co-exists with endometriosis and that clinicians need to actively look for it in women with CPP.

  • Imaging Shows Brain Differences in Men with CPP

    Mordasini L, Weisstanner C, Rummel C, Thalmann GN, Verma RK, Wiest R, Kessler TM. Chronic pelvic pain syndrome in men is associated with reduction of relative gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex compared to healthy controls. J Urol. 2012 Dec;188(6):2233-7. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2012.08.043. Epub 2012 Oct 22.
    To assess central nervous system involvement in chronic pelvic pain (CPP), Swiss researchers at the University of Bern compared the brain MRIs of 20 men with refractory CPP and 20 healthy, age-matched men. They found that the men with CPP had less gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain involved in processing emotional pain. These findings suggest a role for the central nervous system in CPP, and may explain why these men have not responded to treatments targeted to peripheral symptoms.

  • IC Linked to Arthritis

    Keller JJ, Liu SP, Lin HC. A case-control study on the association between rheumatoid arthritis and bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis. Neurourol Urodyn. 2012 Nov 5. doi: 10.1002/nau.22348. [Epub ahead of print]
    Using insurance claims data from patients in Taiwan, researchers found a higher incidence of IC in people who had been previously diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The study included data on 9,269 people with IC and 46,345 randomly selected controls. Just over 2 percent of those with IC had RA, compared with about 1 percent of the controls; the odds ratio for prior RA among cases was calculated to be 1.66. After adjusting for socio-demographic factors and co-existing medical conditions, the researchers concluded that there is an association between RA and IC.

  • Could Pelvic Surgery be Related to Onset of IC?

    Warren JW, Howard FM, Morozov VV. Is there a high incidence of hysterectomy and other nonbladder surgeries before and after onset of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome? Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Oct 15. pii: S0002-9378(12)01080-0. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2012.10.008. [Epub ahead of print]
    Compared to controls, the people with IC in this study were about 15 times more likely to have had non-bladder pelvic surgery the month before their IC diagnosis, and about 25 times more likely to have had a hysterectomy. The study used the database from a retrospective case-control study of 312 IC cases and matched controls, plus a longitudinal study of those cases that examined the lifetime approximated annual incidence of surgeries and the incidence in the months before and after the onset of IC. The authors conclude that there may be a very high incidence of non-bladder surgeries just before the onset of IC.

  • Researchers Build a Case for Urinary Stone-IC Link

    Keller J, Chen YK, Lin HC. Association of bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis with urinary calculus: a nationwide population-based study. Int Urogynecol J. 2012 Aug 16. [Epub ahead of print]
    A population-based study in Taiwan suggests an association between urinary calculus (UC), or stones, and the later development of BPS/IC. Conditional logistic regression analysis of 9,269 patients with IC and 46,345 controls showed that 8.1 percent of those with IC had UC in the past, compared to only 4.3 percent of the control group. The association was significant regardless of the location of the stone—whether in the kidney, ureter, bladder, or an unspecified location—and the researchers adjusted the data for chronic pelvic pain, IBS, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, panic disorder, migraine, sicca syndrome, allergy, endometriosis, and asthma. One past study had suggested an association between UC and IC, but this was the first population-based study to investigate this link.

  • CPPS Pain More Intense During Winter

    Hedelin H, Jonsson K, Lundh D. Pain associated with the chronic pelvic pain syndrome is strongly related to the ambient temperature. Scand J Urol Nephrol. 2012 Mar 27. [Epub ahead of print]
    In a questionnaire-based study of 31 Scandinavian men with chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS), Swedish researchers found that these men experienced three times more intense pain during winter months than in warmer seasons. The men ranged in age from 35-66 and had had CPPS for 3-42 years. The study used the National Institutes of Health Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index questionnaire and included questions about symptom intensity during the different seasons. All participants reported a worsening of their condition as the weather became colder. More research is needed to understand the link between weather and pain.

  • An Unusual Case Shows Importance of Medical Detective Work

    Thomas JS, Crew J. Obstructing urethral calculus in a woman revealed to be the cause of chronic pelvic pain. Int Urogynecol J. 2012 Mar 10. [Epub ahead of print]
    Although stones in the urethra (urethral calculi) are extremely rare in Caucasian women, that’s just what turned out to be the cause of one woman’s chronic pelvic pain, as described in this article. At age 51, this patient was diagnosed with chronic pelvic pain in the vagina following a primary posterior vaginal wall repair. Four years later, she sought medical help for urinary retention, which was caused by a stone that had moved down into her urethra. After being treated for the obstruction, her chronic pelvic pain completely disappeared. Given the fact that this patient’s vaginal pain was caused by a problem elsewhere in the pelvis, the authors of this case study emphasize the importance of investigating all potential sources of chronic pelvic pain, even for highly localized pain.

  • Changes in the Brain Linked to CPP

    As-Sanie S, Harris RE, Napadow V, Kim J, Neshewat G, Kairys A, Williams D, Clauw DJ, Schmidt-Wilcke T. Changes in regional gray matter volume in women with chronic pelvic pain: a voxel-based morphometry study. Pain. 2012 Mar 1. [Epub ahead of print]
    To see if changes in the brain’s central pain system have any relation to chronic pelvic pain, researchers at the University of Michigan studied groups of women who had CPP with and without endometriosis. The researchers compared brain images of four subgroups of women: 17 who had endometriosis and CPP, 15 with endometriosis without CPP, six with CPP without endometriosis, and 23 healthy controls (who had neither endometriosis nor CPP). Both groups of women who had CPP, those with endometriosis and those without it, had less gray matter volume in the left thalamus (a brain region involved in pain processing) than women who did not have CPP. The researchers conclude that although endometriosis may be involved in the development of CPP, changes in the brain’s central pain system may also play an important role. As you may recall, investigators of the National Institutes of Health Multidisciplinary Approach to Pelvic Pain Research Network are also looking at changes in the brain in chronic pelvic pain patients—more to come on how these findings match up with that other University of Michigan research group.

  • Of Mice and Men: The Role of Mast Cells in Male Chronic Pelvic Pain

    Done JD, Rudick CN, Quick ML, Schaeffer AJ, Thumbikat P. Roles of mast cells in male chronic pelvic pain. J Urol. 2012 Feb 16. [Epub ahead of print]
    Among the many mysteries of chronic pelvic pain is what causes it in 90 percent of the men who have chronic prostatitis. We do know that men with chronic pelvic pain syndrome have increased mast cell tryptase and nerve growth factor in prostate secretions. To find out whether these could be factors causing the pain, researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine studied mice that had experimental autoimmune prostatitis, which is similar to IC. The mice had increased total and activated mast cells and increased nerve growth factor in the prostate. When treated with a combination of a mast cell stabilizer and a histamine 1 receptor antagonist, the mice had a synergistic (the combination worked better than either product alone) decrease in pelvic pain. However, neutralizing the nerve growth factor did not relieve the pain. These results suggest that mast cells are involved in chronic pelvic pain in experimental autoimmune prostatitis. If so, targeting mast cells could have potential for the treatment of men with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome.

  • Pain Susceptibility, Not Nerve Damage, May Predict Chronic Pain after Hysterectomy

    Brandsborg B. Pain following hysterectomy: Epidemiological and clinical aspects. Dan Med J. 2012 Jan;59(1):B4374.
    Some research has linked IC with hysterectomy, but it’s not known why IC or other chronic pain conditions may start after the procedure. Now, this study offers some clues. In its survey of 1,135 women one year after hysterectomy, 32 percent of women had chronic postoperative pain develop. Risk factors for that outcome were having had pain before surgery, Cesarean section, or other preoperative pain problems. Spinal anesthesia for the surgery reduced the risk. The author also studied a smaller group of patients (90) who filled out questionnaires and underwent tests before their surgery and one and four months after hysterectomy. The surgical approach—abdominal or vaginal—didn’t seem to have any effect on postoperative pain. Risk factors for later pain were high-intensity pain right after surgery and some preoperative pain problems, including allodynia (pain from something not normally painful—in this case, a brush stroke), hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity to pain—in this case, pinpricks), and low thresholds for vaginal pain. Pain susceptibility, and not nerve damage, concluded the author, may explain who gets chronic pain afterward.

  • Urinary Tract Endometriosis More Common Than Thought

    Prevalence and management of urinary tract endometriosis: a clinical case series. Gabriel B, Nassif J, Trompoukis P, Barata S, Wattiez A. Urology. 2011 Dec;78(6):1269-74. Epub 2011 Sep 29. PMID: 21962747
    Urinary tract endometriosis can have some of the same symptoms as IC, such as urgency, frequency, and pain with urination. This article indicates that urinary tract endometriosis may be more common than previously thought. That means there may be more potential for misdiagnosis as IC or for IC to be misdiagnosed as urinary tract endometriosis. This review of the records of the 221 patients who had undergone laparoscopy for severe pelvic endometriosis from 2007 to 2010 showed that 43 (19.5 percent) had urinary tract endometriosis. That’s a much larger percentage than the usually estimated 1 to 4 percent. The disease affected the bladder in most of the patients who had urinary tract endometriosis (33 or 77 percent—including 3 patients who had bladder as well as ureteral endometriosis). Patients with bladder endometriosis had more painful urination, blood in the urine, and urinary tract infection than patients who had endometriosis only in the ureters. Most patients (22) were treated with “skinning” of the bladder lining, but 11 patients underwent partial bladder removal. Diagnosing urinary tract endometriosis is a challenge because it doesn’t have specific symptoms, noted the authors. They believe pelvic MRI can be useful for diagnosis.

  • Mast Cells, Genetics May Be the Major Players in IC Pain

    Rudick CN, Pavlov VI, Chen MC, Klumpp DJ. Gender Specific Pelvic Pain Severity in Neurogenic Cystitis. J Urol. 2011 Dec 16. [Epub ahead of print]
    Genetics and mast cells, but not hormones, may be the major players in IC pain, shows this study of two different strains of mice with a type of IC induced by a viral infection. ICA Update readers are familiar with this intriguing model of IC that demonstrates nerve, mast cell, and bladder connections from our interview with lab leader David Klumpp, PhD, in the Summer 2011 issue. The researchers looked at how much pain the female and male mice of each strain demonstrated, how much inflammation and lining dysfunction they had in their bladders, and their levels of mast cells. The researchers also looked at whether these things changed with hormonal status when the female mice had ovaries removed and when they had estrogen replacement after that. Female mice of each genetic type showed much more pelvic pain than the male mice, but the female mice of one strain showed significantly more pain than the other. The pain in the female mice didn’t correlate with the degree of bladder inflammation of bladder lining dysfunction, and hormonal manipulation had no effect on pain. The number of mast cells, however, did correlate with the degree of pelvic pain in female mice, but that didn’t correlate with the male-female differences. The research team concluded that the pain depends on gender-specific responsiveness to mast cells. How severe the pain is depends on genetic factors.

  • IC Patients with Nerve-related Pain Do Worse

    Cory L, Harvie HS, Northington G, Malykhina A, Whitmore K, Arya L. Association of Neuropathic Pain With Bladder, Bowel and Catastrophizing Symptoms in Women With Bladder Pain Syndrome. J Urol. 2011 Dec 14. [Epub ahead of print]
    IC patients with neuropathic (nerve-related) pain do worse than others, shows this study of 150 women with IC. A little more than a quarter (27 percent) had neuropathic pain. Typical characteristics of neuropathic pain are that it can radiate, come in sharp attacks, or involve hypersensitivity to touch. IC patients with neuropathic pain had significantly worse urinary urgency, bladder pain, bowel pain, diarrhea, and quality of life and higher scores on measures of pain “catastrophizing” or coping than other IC patients.

  • UTIs Make Bladders Sensitive

    Arya LA, Northington GM, Asfaw T, Harvie H, Malykhina A. Evidence of bladder oversensitivity in the absence of an infection in premenopausal women with a history of recurrent urinary tract infections. BJU Int. 2011 Nov 30. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2011.10766.x. [Epub ahead of print]
    Urinary tract infection (UTI) has been implicated in IC, but what the relationship is between the two hasn’t been clear. Some have thought UTIs could trigger IC, and others think bacteria may go into hiding and return periodically to cause symptoms that get diagnosed as IC. This case control study supports the trigger hypothesis, showing that UTIs make the bladder more sensitive. These urogynecologists did some urodynamic studies and analyzed bladder diaries for 59 premenopausal women with recurrent UTIs (with at least three proven UTIs in the previous 12 months and no active infections at the time of the study) as well as 53 control women who did not (who were premenopausal women with stress urinary incontinence and no history of recurrent UTIs or urge incontinence). The women who had recurrent UTIs had significantly more voids per day and voids for the same intake of liquids than the controls. Urodynamics showed that those who had recurrent UTIs also felt a strong desire to void with significantly less urine in their bladder and also had lower bladder capacity than the controls. In addition, the average volume of urine in voids was significantly lower in the women who had had recurrent UTIs than in the controls. This implies that women with recurrent UTIs should be evaluated and treated promptly for their UTIs to reduce the risk of developing IC. Whether women who have recurrent UTIs are truly at increased risk of developing IC in their future needs to be confirmed, said the investigators.

  • Pelvic Pain May Set Up Patients for More Pain after Pelvic Surgery

    Vandenkerkhof EG, Hopman WM, Goldstein DH, Wilson RA, Towheed TE, Lam M, Harrison MB, Reitsma ML, Johnston SL, Medd JD, Gilron I. Impact of Perioperative Pain Intensity, Pain Qualities, and Opioid Use on Chronic Pain After Surgery: A Prospective Cohort Study. Reg Anesth Pain Med. 2011 Dec 6. [Epub ahead of print]
    This study looked at what might help predict who will have chronic pain after gynecologic surgery. The researchers looked at the records of 433 women who underwent surgery. Fourteen percent had pain six months later, and 12 percent had pain that interfered with their lives. Twenty-three percent of the women who had pelvic pain before surgery had chronic postsurgical pain afterwards, compared with 17 percent who had remote pain and 5.1 percent who had no pain beforehand. Women were more likely to have chronic postoperative pain or pain that interfered with their lives if they had anxiety or pain before surgery or moderate to severe in-hospital pain. Those who had pelvic pain that was “miserable” or “shooting,” those who took opioids for pain beforehand, and those with pelvic pain and took opioids were also more likely to have chronic postsurgical pain. Pelvic pain, especially severe pelvic pain, may set patients up for more pain after surgery is performed in the pelvic area.

  • New Twin Study Confirms Genetic Contribution

    Tunitsky E, Barber MD, Jeppson PC, Nutter B, Jelovsek JE, Ridgeway B. Bladder Pain Syndrome/Interstitial Cystitis in Twin Sisters. J Urol. 2011 Nov 14. [Epub ahead of print]
    These researchers took the opportunity at the famous Twins Day in Twinsburg, Ohio, to ask adult twin sisters about bladder symptoms. The investigators concluded that the genetic factors do contribute to the risk of having IC. A subject was thought likely to have IC based on a score of 13 or more on the O’Leary-Sant Symptom and Problem Indexes. Of the 492 women (246 identical twin sister pairs) who participated in the study, 45 women (9 percent) had moderate to high risk of having IC based on that O’Leary-Sant cutoff, and in 5 twin pairs (2 percent), both likely had IC. The correlation of scores among twins on the questionnaire was 0.35, which suggested a genetic contribution. Increasing age, irritable bowel syndrome, physical abuse (but not sexual or emotional abuse), frequent headaches, multiple drug allergies, and the number of urinary tract infections within in the last year correlated with having IC.

  • Adhesions Need Prevention Attention

    Hirschelmann A, Tchartchian G, Wallwiener M, Hackethal A, De Wilde RL. A review of the problematic adhesion prophylaxis in gynaecological surgery. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2011 Oct 30. [Epub ahead of print]
    Physical therapists often peg adhesions from C sections and other pelvic surgeries as contributors to pelvic pain in IC patients, so wider recognition and prevention could be a boon. Adhesion formation is the most frequent complication in abdominal and pelvic surgery; nevertheless, many surgeons are still not aware of the extent of the problem, said these authors. Surgeons should learn about and use prevention strategies, which include films and gels. The authors call for further research to fully understand how adhesions form, how to prevent them from forming, and which anti-adhesion agents are most effective.

  • New Key to Pain Intensity Discovered

    Emery EC, Young GT, Berrocoso EM, Chen L, McNaughton PA. HCN2 ion channels play a central role in inflammatory and neuropathic pain. Science. 2011 Sep 9;333(6048):1462-6.
    Pharmacologists at the University of Cambridge in England have found a new key to how the body senses the intensity of pain with their discovery of the role a member of the HCN ion channel family in neuropathic and inflammatory pain. Mice bred to lack the gene for the HCN2 ion channel had normal pain thresholds, but inflammation did not cause the usual increase in sensitivity to pain from heat. Through this and other experiments, the researchers concluded that neuropathic (nerve-generated) pain is initiated by HCN2 firing in certain pain-sensing nerves. This discovery opens up the possibility of developing specific blockers that could treat neuropathic pain, which is very difficult to do. Some of the pain of IC is thought to be neuropathic.

  • Tender Point May Talk to Your Bladder

    Furuta A, Suzuki Y, Honda M, Koike Y, Naruoka T, Asano K, Chancellor M, Egawa S, Yoshimura N. Time-dependent changes in bladder function and plantar sensitivity in a rat model of fibromyalgia syndrome induced by hydrochloric acid injection into the gluteus. BJU Int. 2011 Aug 2. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2011.10258.x. [Epub ahead of print]
    Treating a gluteus muscle tender point might ease bladder sensitivity, implies this animal study. Knowing that fibromyalgia can accompany IC and that fibromyalgia has specific tender points, these researchers looked at the correlation between muscle pain, specifically gluteal pain, and bladder pain. Under anesthesia, rats got an injection of a small amount of hydrochloric acid into the gluteus muscle, which simulates fibromyalgia, and the control rats got injections of a neutral saline solution. The researchers checked some of the rats’ sensitivity to touch on the hind paw one, two, and three weeks later. Other rats underwent a type of urodynamic testing before and after they got a kind of trigger point treatment with the anesthetic lidocaine injected into the gluteus. One and two weeks later, rats that had the gluteus muscle irritation were much more sensitive to touch on the hind paw than controls. The rats that got the lidocaine treatment injections had much longer times between bladder contractions and much higher volumes of urine voided than the rats that didn’t get the lidocaine treatment. In IC patients with fibromyalgia, bladder sensitivity might result from cross-sensitization between the bladder and the gluteal tender point, so treating the tender point may be effective for frequency, concluded the researchers.

  • Wipe Out Old Research Options for IC

    Cruz F. The Future of Pharmacologic Treatment for Bladder Pain Syndrome/Interstitial Cystitis: Lessons From a Meta-Analysis. Eur Urol. 2011 Sep 28. [Epub ahead of print]
    In this commentary on a systematic review of IC treatment, the author calls for new directions in treatment research and sees hope, despite the gloomy picture the review painted. The review, which we summarized last month (“Meta-Analysis Shows No Big IC Winner”) showed that only cyclosporine and amitriptyline demonstrated any consistently great effect on IC in randomized trials. Amitriptyline may not be effective for all, may require larger doses for some, and may have difficult side effects. Cyclosporine treatment also carries side effect risks and can be very costly. Treatment studies, the author pointed out, are of old drugs that have only weak studies to support them. “It is time to wipe out all those old options from the research field and initiate a new period of investigation looking for another set of compounds,” said Dr. Cruz. He thinks pain and bladder inflammation will be the most important targets for new drugs. He believes the most interesting and potentially useful drugs for IC pain are cannabinoid receptor (CB1) agonists (stimulators), TRPV1 (the “hot pepper” receptor) antagonists (blockers), and antagonist (blocker) compounds for the purinergic receptor (the receptor for the sometime pain-transmitting ATP). He also hopes for trials of onabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) that will compare whole-bladder with trigone-only injections, new types of botulinum toxins, gene therapy, more effective anti-inflammatory compounds, and APF-related compounds.

  • More Focus Needed on Estrogen’s Role

    Chaban V. Estrogen and Visceral Nociception at the Level of Primary Sensory Neurons. Pain Res Treat. 2012 Jan 1;2012(2012). pii: 960780.
    The co-occurrence of IC and other pain conditions and their high prevalence in women calls for focus on the role of estrogen in the cross-sensitization of visceral organs, this researcher argues. His and his colleagues’ studies suggest that this process may not take place centrally, that is in the brain and spinal cord, but peripherally, at the dorsal root ganglia (the nodules of nerve cells where the front and back nerve roots from the spinal cord come together). Estrogens affect a wide range of nerve functions, including regulating the flow of calcium across membranes (essential for transmitting signals) and regulating purinoreceptors (which ATP activates and which play a role in pain sensation).

  • Review Highlights Myofacial Component of Pelvic Pain

    Díaz-Mohedo E, Barón-López FJ, Pineda-Galán C. Etiological, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Consideration of the Myofascial Component in Chronic Pelvic Pain. Actas Urol Esp. 2011 Sep 12. [Epub ahead of print]
    With a systematic review of the medical literature on pelvic pain, these physical medicine specialists concluded that myofascial problems may be responsible for perpetuating symptoms and the lack of resolution of pelvic pain.

  • Stress Could Prompt Long-lasting Urinary Changes

    Smith AL, Leung J, Kun S, Zhang R, Karagiannides I, Raz S, Lee U, Glovatscka V, Pothoulakis C, Bradesi S, Mayer EA, Rodríguez LV. The Effects of Acute and Chronic Psychological Stress on Bladder Function in a Rodent Model. Urology. 2011 Aug 23. [Epub ahead of print]
    Stressed rats showed significant increases in frequency, time between voids, and volume as well as increased blood vessel formation and total and activated mast cells in their bladders. The stress was a standard repeated water avoidance test, which was performed for 10 days in a row to model chronic stress. The alterations in voiding persisted for about a month.

  • Wider May Be Better for Bike Seats

    Guess MK, Partin SN, Schrader S, Lowe B, Lacombe J, Reutman S, Wang A, Toennis C, Melman A, Mikhail M, Connell KA. Women’s Bike Seats: A Pressing Matter for Competitive Female Cyclists. J Sex Med. 2011 Aug 11. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2011.02437.x. [Epub ahead of print]
    Women cyclists can develop genital pain, numbness, and swelling of pelvic floor structures from bike riding, similar to the pudendal nerve problems men sometimes have from bike riding. These researchers analyzed genital vibratory thresholds and saddle pressures in 48 healthy, premenopausal, competitive women bicyclists. More than half of the participants (54.8 percent) used traditional saddles, and the remainder (45.2 percent) rode with cut-out saddles. Traditional saddles produced lower perineal pressures than cutout saddles. Saddle design, however, did not affect mean or peak total saddle pressures. Use of wider saddles was associated with lower peak perineal saddle pressure and lower mean total saddle pressure. Cut-out and narrower saddles negatively affect saddle pressures in female cyclists, concluded the investigators. However, they noted, the effects of saddle design on pudendal nerve sensory function were not apparent. Studies following cyclists over the long term to look at the effect of saddle pressure on the pudendal nerve are needed, they said.

  • Physical Therapists Argue for Relevance of Psychological Factors in Pelvic Pain . . .

    Alappattu MJ, Bishop MD. Psychological Factors in Chronic Pelvic Pain in Women: Relevance and Application of the Fear-Avoidance Model of Pain. Phys Ther. 2011 Aug 11. [Epub ahead of print]
    These authors discuss the role of psychological variables in chronic pelvic pain in women, especially vulvodynia and IC. Their psychological model is based in the fear-avoidance model (FAM) of pain, which theorizes that some people are more likely to develop and maintain pain after an injury because of their emotional and behavioral responses to it. They divide people into those who have low fear, confront pain, and recover from injury and people who catastrophize pain, which they say leads to avoidance/escape behaviors, disuse, and disability. The authors suggest that physical therapists integrate this model into their decision making, based on the pain-related thinking and behavior of their patients.

  • . . . But These Doctors Say Psychological Disorders Reflect Pelvic Pain Rather than Prompt It

    Roth RS, Punch MR, Bachman JE. Psychological factors and chronic pelvic pain in women: a comparative study with women with chronic migraine headaches. Health Care Women Int. 2011 Aug;32(8):746-61.
    Chronic pelvic pain is often attributed to psychogenic cause, note these authors. They conducted a study to determine whether women with chronic pelvic pain have a typical psychologic profile by comparing the pain experience, psychological functioning, and marital/sexual satisfaction of women with chronic pelvic pain with the same in women who had chronic migraine headache. Patients with chronic pelvic pain were more dissatisfied with their marriage and had more sexual dysfunction. But there were no differences between the groups in terms of depression, anxiety, mood factors, or additional personality traits. These data suggest that, in general, when psychological disorders are observed in chronic pelvic pain patients, they most likely reflect the effects of chronic pain rather than cause it, concluded the authors.

  • Pain Changes the Brain . . .

    Farmer MA, Chanda ML, Parks EL, Baliki MN, Apkarian AV, Schaeffer AJ. Brain functional and anatomical changes in chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome. J Urol. 2011 Jul;186(1):117-24. Epub 2011 May 14.
    Functional magnetic resonance imaging showed that the brains of men with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) are different from those of healthy men. Compared with 14 healthy men, 19 men with CP/CPPS had higher densities of gray matter in pain-processing brain regions (anterior insula and anterior cingulate cortices). The densities correlated with the intensity of their pain and how long they had had it. In addition, when men with CP/CPPS had pain while they were in the scanner, the researchers could see that the right anterior insula of the brain was activated, and the activation was related to how intense the pain was. Furthermore, in the men with CP/CPPS, the proportions of gray and white brain matter were not stable, unlike in the healthy men. The authors concluded that further research is needed into the central nervous system processes that may start and maintain CP/CPPS.
  • . . . But Pain Treatment Changes the Brain Back

    Seminowicz DA, Wideman TH, Naso L, Hatami-Khoroushahi Z, Fallatah S, Ware MA, Jarzem P, Bushnell MC, Shir Y, Ouellet JA, Stone LS. Effective treatment of chronic low back pain in humans reverses abnormal brain anatomy and function. J Neurosci. 2011 May 18;31(20):7540-50.
    Does chronic pain start in the brain, and does it mean that pain is ingrained there? No, indicates this study of people with chronic low back pain. It’s known that in patients with chronic pain, the brain’s gray matter is reduced and thinking ability is impaired. But when chronic low back pain patients in this study got effective pain treatment, their brains recovered. The researchers got MRI scans before and after spine surgery or facet joint injections in 14 patients and compared the scans with those of 16 healthy controls, including 10 who returned six months later. The investigators looked at the brains’ cortical thickness and activity during a task that demanded a lot of attention. Patients started out with a thinner left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) than their healthy counterparts, but after treatment, this cortex got thicker. The increased thickness correlated with how much pain and physical disability were reduced. The increase in the thickness of the brain’s primary motor cortex correlated with the reduction in physical disability, and the increase in thickness of the right anterior insula correlated with reduced pain. The activity in the left DLPFC was abnormal before treatment, but was normal after treatment. Treating chronic pain can restore normal brain function in humans, the authors concluded. That’s a message of hope.
  • Is IC an Autoimmune Disease? New Mouse Model Revives the Idea

    Altuntas CZ, Daneshgari F, Sakalar C, Goksoy E, Gulen MF, Kavran M, Qin J, Li X, Tuohy VK. Autoimmunity to Uroplakin II Causes Cystitis in Mice: A Novel Model of Interstitial Cystitis. Eur Urol. 2011 Jun 28. [Epub ahead of print]
    Could an autoimmune process cause the defects seen in IC patients’ bladder lining? This experiment points that way. The researchers immunized mice with a recombinant form of a protein called uroplakin II. This protein helps form the top layer of the bladder lining that keeps it locked against urine. The mice had antibody reactions to the recombinant protein and had an IC-like condition develop, with increases in frequency and low-volume voids. The mice also produced more inflammatory cytokines in the bladder lining, but not in other organs. The next step, the researchers said, will be to test the mice for evidence of pain or hypersensitivity and look for actual bladder lining damage.
  • Pelvic Surgery Prompts Chronic Pelvic Pain, Treatment with Stimulators

    Martellucci J, Naldini G, Del Popolo G, Carriero A. Sacral nerve modulation in the treatment of chronic pain after pelvic surgery. Colorectal Dis. 2011 Apr 25. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1318.2011.02659.x. [Epub ahead of print]
    These Italian urologists detail their efforts to ease chronic pelvic pain that developed after pelvic surgery in 17 women. The surgeries the patients had undergone included hysterectomy, surgery to repair or remove hemorrhoids or fistulas, rectal surgery, surgical opening of the urethral sphincter, appendectomy, disk surgery, or laparoscopy for endometriosis. Eight of the patients qualified for a sacral neuromodulator, underwent surgery, and were followed up for a mean of 39 months. Their pain levels fell from an average of 8.2 on a 10-point scale before implantation to,1.9, 2.1, 2.0 and 1.8 at 6, 12, 24 and 36 months. Those who were under age 60 and had had symptoms for less than two years did better, and those who had had stapling did worse.
  • Rethink Bladder Sensation?

    De Wachter SG, Heeringa R, van Koeveringe GA, Gillespie JI. On the nature of bladder sensation: The concept of sensory modulation. Neurourol Urodyn. 2011 Jun 9. doi: 10.1002/nau.21038. [Epub ahead of print]
    Could researchers be missing something when it comes to talking about bladder sensation, such as frequency and urgency, and how sensation is affected in IC and other bladder conditions? These urologists and neuroscientists think so, based on their review of the literature about bladder sensation. They believe that there are differences in what might be described as “introspective bladder sensations,” the sensations immediately before voiding, and sensations while voiding. They propose a model that describes how the information from the body that generates the “introspective bladder sensations’ and the voiding sensations themselves might be different but interrelated. More research, such as work with focus groups, is needed to better understand the physiology of bladder sensation and the pathology of increased urgency, frequency, and incontinence, the authors said.
  • Bladder Sensation Rethought

    Heeringa R, de Wachter SG, van Kerrebroeck PE, van Koeveringe GA. Normal bladder sensations in healthy volunteers: A focus group investigation. Neurourol Urodyn. 2011 May 23. doi: 10.1002/nau.21052. [Epub ahead of print]
    The same group of researchers that proposed rethinking bladder sensation did some research themselves with a focus group of 11 healthy participants, 4 men and 7 women, who were asked to describe their bladder-related sensations. Before each session, the participants drank a specific, large quantity of water. They all experienced two different types of sensations--“pressure” or “tingling.” The first sensation developed continuously. The terms that described the process of getting to the point where they absolutely had to urinate included “no sensation,” “weak awareness,” “stronger awareness,” “weak need,” “stronger need,” and “absolute need” to void.
  • Connections Between IC, Associated Conditions, and the Bladder Lining

    Birder LA, Hanna-Mitchell AT, Mayer E, Buffington CA. Cystitis, Co-morbid disorders and associated epithelial dysfunction. Neurourol Urodyn. 2011 Jun;30(5):668-72. doi: 10.1002/nau.21109.
    This review article tries to pull together what we know about IC, its sometimes-associated conditions, and changes in the bladder lining. The authors point out that a number of syndromes share changes in the barrier function of organ linings and the linings’ signaling functions. Lining cells can respond to a number of challenges, including environmental inputs and mediators of pain or inflammation that are released from nerves or nearby inflammatory cells. These can change the sensitivity of the lining to various substances, allow irritating substances to pass through, or lead to release of substances that may act on nerves or other cells.
  • Study Points to Biochemical Pathway for Bladder Pain Sensation

    Lai HH, Qiu CS, Crock LW, Morales ME, Ness TJ, Gereau RW 4th. Activation of spinal extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK) 1/2 is associated with the development of visceral hyperalgesia of the bladder. Pain. 2011 Jun 24. [Epub ahead of print]
    These researchers found that two extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs), which are also known as mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), are important in the development of bladder hypersensitivity. (It was already known that these play a role in body hypersensitivity but not sensitivity of internal organs.) The team correlated an increase in bladder hyperalgesia with enhanced activation of ERK1/2 in the dorsal horn and deeper laminae on both sides of the spinal cord in the sixth lumbar (L6) to first sacral (S1) segments. They also found that blocking ERK1/2 activity with an MEK inhibitor known as U0126 eased bladder pain sensations caused by bladder expansion. This discovery may open another avenue for drug therapy to stop bladder pain.
  • Chronic Pelvic Pain Correlates with Rheumatic Disease

    Driul L, Bertozzi S, Londero AP, Fruscalzo A, Rusalen A, Marchesoni D, Di Benedetto P. Risk factors for chronic pelvic pain in a cohort of primipara and secondipara at one year after delivery: association of chronic pelvic pain with autoimmune pathologies. Minerva Ginecol. 2011 Apr;63(2):181-7.
    This study wasn’t about IC per se, but it drew a correlation between chronic pelvic pain (in women who had given birth to one or two children) with some factors we might expect, such as previous pelvic surgery, and one that isn’t commonly thought of—rheumatic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The statistical correlation led the authors to conclude that delivery may highlight chronic pelvic pain symptoms in predisposed women affected by chronic autoimmune disease.
  • New Study Confirms Common Diet Triggers

    Bassaly R, Downes K, Hart S. Dietary Consumption Triggers in Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome Patients. Female Pelvic Med Reconstr Surg. 2011;17(1):36-39.
    The diet study by University of South Florida researchers that many of you participated in has now been published, and it helps confirm previous studies showing that consumables have an effect on IC symptoms and what the common ones are. Thanks to you, the researchers got 598 complete responses to their web-based questionnaire about the effects of foods, beverages, additives, and supplements. They asked about the effects of 344 different items. Most items had no effect on symptoms. Items that made symptoms worse were citrus fruits, tomatoes, coffee, tea, carbonated and alcoholic beverages, spicy foods, artificial sweeteners, and vitamin C. Only calcium glycerophosphate (Prelief) and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) showed a trend toward improving symptoms. The results show that IC diets do not have to be overly restrictive, said these researchers.
  • Tea, Smoking Linked with IC

    Tettamanti G, Nyman-Iliadou A, Pedersen NL, Bellocco R, Milsom I, Altman D. Influence of Smoking, Coffee, and Tea Consumption on Bladder Pain Syndrome in Female Twins. Urology. 2011 Mar 23. [Epub ahead of print]
    Tea and smoking, but not coffee, show a link with IC in Swedish Twin Study data. That study recently yielded new information about the genetic risk of IC, but part of the Twin Study researchers’ work was also to ask about lifestyle. That information allows analysts to uncover whether certain health or dietary factors are linked with the symptoms or conditions people have. When there is a definite relationship, those factors are considered risk factors for a condition. (That doesn’t mean that these factors cause the condition, but it’s a good guess that changing the factor might change your condition or your chance of getting it.) The study showed that tea drinkers had from one and three quarters (for low tea consumption) to nearly double (for high tea consumption) the chance of having IC symptoms (an Interstitial Cystitis Symptom Index score of 6 or more) than nondrinkers. Former and current smokers had about one and a half times the chance of having symptoms than nonsmokers, although that relationship was not as clear because of family-related factors. There was no significant difference in symptoms between coffee drinkers and coffee abstainers.
  • Both Pain and Urgency Get You Up at Night

    Warren JW, Horne L, Diggs C, Greenberg P, Langenberg PW. Nocturia in interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome. Urology. 2011 Jun;77(6):1308-12.
    What wakes you up at night? These researchers asked IC patients directly and also looked at their records from the Events Preceding IC study to find out. Urgency correlated with whether IC patients had nocturia (getting up at night to urinate) and how bad it was. In addition, a large majority of patients said that pain is what wakes them up. Pain may have played an indirect role in nocturia, too, by generating the sensation of urgency. This fits in with the idea that both urinary urgency and bladder pain lead to nighttime voiding in IC patients, concluded the authors.
  • Is Chronic Pelvic Pain a “Functional Somatic Syndrome”?

    Warren JW, Morozov V, Howard FM. Could chronic pelvic pain be a functional somatic syndrome? Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2011 Apr 14. [Epub ahead of print]
    These authors, including two IC experts, believe that chronic pelvic pain may be a “functional somatic syndrome.” Those are conditions with no known medical cause. The authors believe that research on these syndromes, including fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome, and research on chronic pelvic pain are coming together to reveal some cause that is primarily outside the pelvis.
  • IC and Vulvodynia Overlap for Many Patients

    Gardella B, Porru D, Nappi RE, Daccò MD, Chiesa A, Spinillo A. Interstitial Cystitis is Associated with Vulvodynia and Sexual Dysfunction-A Case-Control Study. J Sex Med. 2011 Apr 7. [Epub ahead of print]
    Some ninety-eight percent of the 47 women with IC in this study had a form of vulvodynia. (IC was diagnosed by older, stricter NIDDK research criteria.) All were patients of the pelvic pain service of the gynecology department at the University of Pavia in Italy and had their IC come on recently—between 6 and 12 months before the study. The clinicians there compared the IC patients with 188 age-matched, healthy controls. Analysis showed that, among the women with IC, 23 percent had spontaneous vulvodynia (vulvar pain that can occur even without touching or pressing) and 74 percent had provoked vulvodynia (vulvar pain with touch), whereas none of the control women had these vulvar pains. In addition, vulvodynia was localized (around the vaginal opening) in 81 percent of the women with IC and more general in a much smaller percentage (17%). Also, 87 percent of the women with IC had pain with intercourse, whereas only 6 percent of the control women did. Vaginal health scores (based on things such as elasticity, intact lining, and moisture) were also significantly lower in IC patients, and patients were also more likely to have mixed vaginal infections and yeast overgrowth. Compared with their healthy sisters, the women with IC were also more likely to be in menopause, to have used or to be using oral contraceptives, or to have confirmed endometriosis. The authors agree with the idea that IC and vulvodynia may have a common cause and speculated that it may be sex-hormone related.
  • Hot Pepper Receptors Called Culprits in Colon-Bladder Crosstalk

    Asfaw TS, Hypolite JA, Northington GM, Arya LA, Wein AJ, Malykhina AP. Acute colonic inflammation triggers detrusor instability via activation of TRPV1 receptors in a rat model of pelvic organ cross-sensitization. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2011 Apr 6. [Epub ahead of print]
    Irritating the colon in rats with a hot-pepper-like substance increased bladder contractions and decreased bladder capacity and voided volume, found this research team. But there were differences in the response when only tissue was tested. The results suggest that inflammation of the colon triggers bladder muscle instability through the hot-pepper-like receptor and that intact nerve pathways are required for that to happen. The study adds more evidence to the idea that there is nerve crosstalk between the colon and bladder and that irritation of the colon can lead to bladder symptoms by this route.
  • Bladder Interstitial Cells May Hold New Treatment Keys

    McCloskey KD. Interstitial cells and bladder pathophysiology—passive bystanders or active participants? J Urol. 2011 May;185(5):1562-3. Epub 2011 Mar 21.
    The “I” in IC stands for “interstitial,” but it hasn’t been clear what role cells in the bladder’s interstitium might play. Research to find that out is accelerating, demonstrates this author. Studies of subtypes of these cells show they may contribute to the complex cellular signaling within the bladder wall that is responsible for normal bladder function. These cells may also transmit signals from the bladder lining to other cells in the bladder wall, play a role in transmitting sensation as the bladder wall stretches when the bladder fills, and may function as “pacemakers” for the bladder muscle or regulate the muscle’s spontaneous muscle activity. All those processes are thought to play a role in IC. Moreover, the interstitial cells that occur under the bladder lining in IC patients have been shown to take on the character of connective tissue. Changes in the numbers of these cells have a clear relationship with abnormal bladder function, implying that they play an important role in bladder function and could be new treatment targets.
  • Membrane Protein May Play Role in IC

    Lin XC, Zhang QH, Zhou P, Zhou ZS, Lu GS. Caveolin-1 May Participate in the Pathogenesis of Bladder Pain Syndrome/ Interstitial Cystitis. Urol Int. 2011 Feb 19. [Epub ahead of print]
    Caveolin-1 is an important protein in the structure of cell membranes, and this research team found that its expression in urine and bladder tissue is much higher in IC patients than in healthy controls. That suggests it may play a role in the disease process.
  • Which Comes First, the Chicken or IC?

    Warren JW, Wesselmann U, Morozov V, Langenberg PW. Numbers and types of nonbladder syndromes as risk factors for interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome. Urology. 2011 Feb;77(2):313-9.
    Do other “syndromes” that patients have before IC kick off the IC, or does IC arise out of the same process that causes the other conditions? That remains to be tested, but the idea that this is something to test comes out of the Events Preceding IC (EPIC) study, which found that many IC-associated conditions start before IC. This analysis shows that, in patients who didn’t have many other associated conditions, allergy was very common. (Allergy is not usually considered to be a syndrome.) In patients who had a lot of “functional somatic syndromes,” fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and irritable bowel syndrome were common.
  • Avoid Adhesions, Contributors to Pelvic Pain

    Mais V, Angioli R, Coccia E, Fagotti A, Landi S, Melis GB, Pellicano M, Scambia G, Zupi E, Angioni S, Arena S, Corona R, Fanfani F, Nappi C. Prevention of postoperative abdominal adhesions in gynecological surgery. Consensus paper of an Italian gynecologists’ task force on adhesions. [Article in Italian] Minerva Ginecol. 2011 Feb;63(1):47-70.
    This task force of Italian urologists developed a consensus on avoiding and resolving adhesions, a frequent complication of abdominal and pelvic surgery that can cause important short- and long-term problems, including infertility, chronic pelvic pain, a lifetime risk of small bowel obstruction, and complications in future surgeries. They pose serious quality of life issues for many patients, which can increase social and healthcare costs. Surgeons can take important steps to reduce the impact of adhesions, and the task force made practical proposals for actions that gynecologic surgeons in Italy should take. Improvements in surgical technique, developments in adhesion-reduction strategies, and new agents offer a realistic possibility of reducing adhesion formation and improving outcomes for patients, the gynecologists said. They also said patients need to be better informed about the risks of adhesions.
  • Caution on Ketamine

    Wood D, Cottrell A, Baker SC, Southgate J, Harris M, Fulford S, Woodhouse C, Gillatt D. Recreational ketamine: from pleasure to pain. BJU Int. 2011 Feb 14. [Epub ahead of print]
    This review article looks at what we’ve learned so far about ketamine abuse and the damage it can do to the bladder. Symptoms include a small painful bladder, obstructed ureters, kidney damage, and liver dysfunction. Bladder inflammation and ulceration have also been reported. Ketamine-induced bladder damage can appear similar to IC. The treatment includes stopping ketamine use and using adequate pain control to overcome symptoms, said the authors. Although some IC patients may be mistakenly thought to be ketamine abusers when they go for help, this recommendation for adequate pain control to overcome symptoms is a positive development, since that should be the case for IC patients as well. Ketamine, however, remains a safe and effective drug to use under appropriate medical supervision, said the authors.
  • Interstitial Cells Are Different in IC Bladders

    Gevaert T, De Vos R, Everaerts W, Libbrecht L, Van Der Aa F, van den Oord J, Roskams T, De Ridder D. Characterization of upper lamina propria interstitial cells in bladders from patients with neurogenic detrusor overactivity and bladder pain syndrome. J Cell Mol Med. 2011 Jan 20. [Epub ahead of print]
    These pathologists found that interstitial cells in bladders of patients with IC and in patients with neurogenic detrusor overactivity (the bladder spasms that can occur in spinal cord injury patients) do look different from normal interstitial cells. They shift toward a “fibroblast type,” a cell that is common in connective tissue. The investigators looked at these cells in the lamina propria, which is the layer between the bladder muscle and the bladder lining, because the terminology for that layer still isn’t settled and more remains to be known about the cells’ morphology and immunohistochemistry. Cells from the upper lamina propria in both sets of patients had a fibroblast-like appearance and an immunohistochemistry that put the cells into the category of Cajal-like cells (which may have a pacemaker function). This shift in cell type was more pronounced in the patients with neurogenic detrusor overactivity than in IC patients.
  • Inflammation Marker Levels Are High in IC and OAB

    Chung SD, Liu HT, Lin H, Kuo HC. Elevation of serum C-reactive protein in patients with OAB and IC/BPS implies chronic inflammation in the urinary bladder. Neurourol Urodyn. 2011 Jan 31. [Epub ahead of print]
    C-reactive protein (CRP) is a marker of chronic inflammation, and both IC and overactive bladder (OAB) patients have high levels, indicating that inflammation plays a role. These researchers measured serum levels of the marker in 48 IC patients, 22 OAB patients, and 33 controls. Levels were significantly higher in IC and OAB patients than in controls, but there was no significant difference in the levels between IC and OAB patients. The levels of CRP and levels of nerve growth factor in urine were related only in OAB patients who had fairly high CRP levels. The results help demonstrate that the bladder is chronically inflamed in IC and OAB patients, the authors concluded.
  • Hormones, Pregnancy, Other Chronic Conditions Show Strong Relationship with IC

    Explanations remain unclear
    Warren JW, Clauw DJ, Wesselmann U, Langenberg PW, Howard FM, Morozov V. Sexuality and Reproductive Risk Factors for Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome in Women. Urology. 2011 Jan 6. [Epub ahead of print]
    These researchers found associations between IC and three characteristics that came before the diagnosis: hormone use, having had fewer pregnancies (for still-cycling women), and associated conditions, such as allergies, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and fibromyalgia. The associated conditions had the strongest relationship with IC, especially as the number went up. The associated conditions that IC patients had most often compared with controls were “chronic pelvic pain,” irritable bowel syndrome, and panic disorder. The odds were also higher that IC patients had used noncontraceptive female hormones and had undergone an abortion. Also, women with IC were less likely to have been pregnant.

    Why these things are risk factors for IC isn’t clear. Don’t take these results to mean that hormone use and abortion cause IC or that pregnancy prevents it. It could be that the women who used noncontraceptive hormones were taking them to help treat pelvic pain. Oral contraceptives are a typical treatment for endometriosis, which many IC patients have, but it was not mentioned specifically in the article. It may have fallen under the category of chronic pelvic pain, especially if it had gone undiagnosed, which is common. Although the authors speculated that hormones at and after menopause might play a role in encouraging the development of IC and that hormones might enhance pain, the relationship might have showed up because postmenopausal women were receiving hormones improve IC symptoms or those that exacerbate IC. Furthermore, studies about estrogen’s effect on pain are conflicting. Women with IC who had abortions may have gone through fewer pregnancies, which the authors speculated might postpone IC. On the other hand, the women may have terminated pregnancy because it was too difficult and painful with their IC and associated conditions. Women with IC may have had fewer pregnancies for similar reasons.

    With regard to associated conditions, the authors said finding a cause of these often “functional syndromes” would likely also help reveal the cause of IC. The functional syndromes, which are groups of symptoms that have no apparent physical cause, are now often thought to result from abnormal brain processing of sensory information. Research, however, is suggesting potential causes outside of the nervous system for some of these disorders, such as viruses in chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic low-grade chronic inflammation in IBS.

  • Plethora of Pelvic Pains Pegged as IC

    Parsons CL. The role of a leaky epithelium and potassium in the generation of bladder symptoms in interstitial cystitis/overactive bladder, urethral syndrome, prostatitis and gynaecological chronic pelvic pain. BJU Int. 2010 Dec 22. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2010.09843.x. [Epub ahead of print]
    This researcher argues that early IC is often misdiagnosed as urinary tract infection, urethral syndrome, overactive bladder, chronic prostatitis, urethritis, or some type of gynecologic pelvic pain (endometriosis, vulvodynia, or another vaginitis) and that they are all really the same bladder disease. He believes that the disease, which he calls lower urinary dysfunction epithelium (LUDE), results from a leaky bladder lining, which allows potassium to leak through the bladder lining to generate symptoms.
  • IC Recognized as Source of Cyclic Pelvic Pain

    Won HR, Abbott J. Optimal management of chronic cyclical pelvic pain: an evidence-based and pragmatic approach. Int J Womens Health. 2010 Aug 20;2:263-77.
    Pelvic pain related to the menstrual cycle is common, yet there’s not much high-quality evidence on how to manage it. These analysts combed through the medical literature for articles about cyclic pain. They said the literature indicates that chronic pelvic pain affects from 4 to 25 percent of reproductive-age women, and menstrual pain of varying degrees affects 60 percent of women. Endometriosis came up as the most common cause of cyclic pelvic pain. Other gynecologic causes include adenomyosis, uterine fibroids, and pelvic floor myalgia. But the authors noted that disease in other systems, such as irritable bowel syndrome or IC, may also be responsible. Options for treatment range from the simple to invasive, but the authors called the combined oral contraceptive pill a first-line option before more invasive treatments. Doctors need to take careful histories, do careful physical examinations, and consider appropriate tests to identify the cause or causes of the pain and decide on the optimal treatment, concluded the authors.
  • Migraines Common in Women with Pelvic Pain

    Karp BI, Sinaii N, Nieman LK, Silberstein SD, Stratton P. Migraine in women with chronic pelvic pain with and without endometriosis. Fertil Steril. 2010 Dec 8. [Epub ahead of print]
    Among 108 women in a clinical trial for chronic pelvic pain, 67 percent had definite or probable migraine headaches at some time in their lives. Another eight percent had “possible” migraine. Migraine was no more likely in women who had endometriosis than in those without endometriosis. Women with the most severe headaches had a lower quality of life than those with pelvic pain alone. The authors said these findings indicate, not only that migraine contributes to disability in women with pelvic pain, but also that there may be a common origin for migraine and chronic pelvic pain.
  • Avoid Adhesions

    Brüggmann D, Tchartchian G, Wallwiener M, Münstedt K, Tinneberg HR, Hackethal A. Intra-abdominal adhesions: definition, origin, significance in surgical practice, and treatment options. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2010 Nov;107(44):769-75. Epub 2010 Nov 5.
    Adhesions after surgery in the abdominal cavity can lead to or aggravate pelvic pain. They are common, but surgeons can take measures to avoid them. This article tells them how and encourages them to take these precautions. Adhesions are areas of scar tissue that form after surgery or other wounds in the abdominal cavity and attach normally separated organs to each other. Adhesions can result in bowel obstruction, chronic pelvic pain, painful sex, infertility, and higher rates of complications in subsequent surgery. Surgeries that carry the highest risk of adhesion formation are on the ovaries or bowel. Adhesions are almost inevitable, arising after more than 50 percent of all abdominal operations. Nevertheless, the authors emphasized, it’s important for surgeons to avoid them by minimizing injury during surgery, keeping the lining of the body cavity moist, irrigating the cavity during surgery to remove blood and clots, and using a minimum of foreign material in the abdomen.
  • Pelvic Floor-Back Pain Relationship Explored

    Mohseni-Bandpei MA, Rahmani N, Behtash H, Karimloo M. The effect of pelvic floor muscle exercise on women with chronic non-specific low back pain. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2011 Jan;15(1):75-81. Epub 2009 Dec 28.
    Low back pain may be fairly common in IC patients and is recognized as a symptom of pelvic floor dysfunction. That’s why these physical therapists tried pelvic muscle training to see if it would help resolve low back pain. In a controlled clinical trial in 20 women with chronic low back pain, they tried routine treatment or routine treatment plus pelvic floor exercise. The group that did pelvic floor exercise did no better than the other group. That doesn’t mean that the two are not related, however, since the problems may also go in the other direction—from low back pain to the pelvic floor. In addition, the exercise the therapists used seemed to be aimed at strengthening the pelvic floor muscles rather than relaxing them.
  • DMSO Interferes with Inflammation

    Kim R, Liu W, Chen X, Kreder KJ, Luo Y. Intravesical dimethyl sulfoxide inhibits acute and chronic bladder inflammation in transgenic experimental autoimmune cystitis models. J Biomed Biotechnol. 2011;2011:937061. Epub 2010 Nov 11.
    Using a new strain of mice that have IC characteristics, these researchers looked into the effects of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) on bladder tissue and physiology. The mice with the IC-like condition that got DMSO showed less tissue damage and had more genetic expression of inflammatory factors. DMSO also inhibited bladder inflammation in other mice that had a kind of chronic cystitis and impaired immune cells, called effector T cells, in direct relationship to the amount of DMSO used.
  • Bacteria May Kick Off Pelvic Pain

    Rudick CN, Berry RE, Johnson JR, Johnston B, Klumpp DJ, Schaeffer AJ, Thumbikat P. Uropathogenic E. coli induces chronic pelvic pain. Infect Immun. 2010 Nov 15. [Epub ahead of print]
    This study implicating bacteria in setting off the chronic pain of chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) hints that this may be at work in IC as well. In this study, the researchers took a strain of infectious Escherichia coli bacteria from a man with CP/CPPS and injected it into a particular strain of mice that develop a kind of autoimmune prostatitis. This bacterial strain was not typical of most E coli in urinary tract infections. In addition, the bacteria adhered to, invaded, and proliferated within the prostate lining and colonized both the prostate and bladder of the prostatitis-prone mice. The mice showed sustained and chronic pelvic pain behavior, something that didn’t happen when they were injected with a more common cystitis strain of E coli. The effects continued even after the bacteria were cleared from the tissue. Another common strain of lab mouse did not show these effects after infection. The authors concluded that infection can initiate chronic pelvic pain through processes that depend on both the virulence of the bacterial strain and the genetic background of the host.
  • Muscle Pain, Symptoms Related in IC

    Bassaly R, Tidwell N, Bertolino S, Hoyte L, Downes K, Hart S. Myofascial pain and pelvic floor dysfunction in patients with interstitial cystitis. Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct. 2010 Oct 26. [Epub ahead of print]
    Myofascial pain has a relationship with pelvic floor dysfunction in patients with IC. These researchers analyzed patient records and found a correlation among myofascial pain, muscle trigger points, scores on the Pelvic Pain and Urgency/Frequency (PUF) questionnaire, and scores on questionnaires related to pelvic floor dysfunction. Among patients with one muscle trigger point, some 78 percent had myofascial pain. A high proportion of patients (68 percent) also had numerous trigger points. The investigators said that these findings help bolster the idea that pelvic floor myofascial pain should be looked at in IC patients and that pelvic floor therapy can help.
  • Could Altered Bacteria Play a Role in IC?

    Domingue GJ. Demystifying pleomorphic forms in persistence and expression of disease: Are they bacteria, and is peptidoglycan the solution? Discov Med. 2010 Sep;10(52):234-46.
    This article speculates that “L forms” of bacteria might play a role in a number of disorders we don’t understand, such as chronic inflammatory disorders, collagen disorders, lymphoproliferative disorders, tumors, and IC and chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome. Although some think that, under the microscope, these “bacteria” may be just staining artifacts or debris, they might be cell-wall-deficient/defective bacteria that are difficult to culture or can’t be cultured. The author said that recent provocative studies lend credence to that idea. These studies have found that many different bacterial forms develop during the reproduction of L forms in the laboratory, that stressed bacteria show different modes of division, that gene expression is modified, and that the forms contain peptidoglycan, a component of bacterial cell walls.
  • Nurse Speculates on Connection with “Cuddle Hormone” Upset

    Seng JS. Posttraumatic oxytocin dysregulation: is it a link among posttraumatic self disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, and pelvic visceral dysregulation conditions in women? J Trauma Dissociation. 2010 Oct;11(4):387-406.
    This article speculates that in women with pelvic pain disorders, “posttraumatic self disorders,” or posttraumatic stress disorder, the hormone oxytocin is out of whack. Although both men and women produce this hormone, dubbed the “cuddle hormone,” it plays a much larger role in women, especially in reproduction, although it is also linked to behavior, such as bonding and reduced anxiety. The author said this theory could account for the greater prevalence of these disorders in women. However, our ideas about the prevalence of IC and pelvic disorders are changing as we find that more men have these disorders than previously thought. In addition, the idea of a common cause links pelvic pain with psychologic disorders, which does not have a strong research foundation.
  • Study Estimates Overlapping Condition Rates in IC

    Nickel JC, Tripp DA, Pontari M, Moldwin R, Mayer R, Carr LK, Doggweiler R, Yang CC, Mishra N, Nordling J. Interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome and associated medical conditions with an emphasis on irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. J Urol. 2010 Oct;184(4):1358-63. Epub 2010 Aug 17.
    Based on 205 IC patients’ own reports, 38.6 percent have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), 17.7 percent have fibromyalgia, and 9.5 percent have chronic fatigue syndrome. Those rates are higher than the 117 matched control patients’ reports: 5.2 percent said they had IBS, 2.5 percent fibromyalgia, and 1.7 percent chronic fatigue syndrome. Among the IC patients, 50.3 percent reported no other associated condition, 24.4 percent had IC and IBS only, 2.5% had IC and fibromyalgia only, and 1.5 had IC and chronic fatigue syndrome only, whereas 20.2 percent had multiple associated conditions. As the number of associated conditions increased, pain, stress, depression and sleep disturbance increased, while social support, sexual functioning and quality of life deteriorated. It remains to be proven that IC progresses over time from an organ-based condition to a regional and ultimately whole-body condition with worsening symptoms.
  • Mast Cells, Bladder Lining Problems Don’t Jibe

    Geurts N, Van Dyck J, Wyndaele JJ. Bladder pain syndrome: do the different morphological and cystoscopic features correlate? Scand J Urol Nephrol. 2010 Sep 17. [Epub ahead of print]
    Patients with IC may have bladder lining damage, such as Hunner’s lesions, and lots of mast cells in the bladder muscle, but not both. There are likely different mechanisms of disease at work, and that is also a reason to do both cystoscopy with hydrodistention and biopsy, which is recommended by European urologists. Doing both studies is recommended by the European Society for the Study of IC (ESSIC, which has changed its name to the International Society for the Study of Bladder Pain Syndrome). The Dutch urologists who did the study did both procedures on 15 men and 39 women. They found that damage to the bladder lining correlated with the infiltration of inflammatory cells. When patients had normal bladder linings, they were much more likely to have proliferation of mast cells in their detrusor muscle than those who had damaged bladder linings. Whether this finding has any bearing on treatment remains to be seen.
  • Proteins, Pathways Differ in IC

    Goo YA, Tsai YS, Liu AY, Goodlett DR, Yang CC. Urinary proteomics evaluation in interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome: a pilot study. Int Braz J Urol. 2010 Jul-Aug;36(4):464-78; discussion 478-9, 479.
    This in-depth look at the proteins in IC patients urine found differences from healthy people that may not only provide markers but also some insight into the disease process. When the researchers analyzed urine samples from 10 women with IC and 10 healthy women with proteomics techniques, they found that all the IC patients had alpha-1B-glycoprotein (A1BG) and orosomucoid-1 (ORM1), and 60 percent or more of the patients had higher levels of these two proteins than controls. On the other hand, all the controls had transthyretin (TTR) and hemopexin (HPX), but 60 percent or more of the IC patients had low levels of these two proteins. A process called enrichment functional analysis showed that IC patients’ cells’ ability to adhere and respond to stimuli were lower and their response to inflammation, wounding, and tissue degradation were higher in IC pateints than in controls. In addition, said the authors, activation of neurophysiological processes involved in nerve signal transmission and a lack of DNA damage repair may also be key components of IC.
  • Unusual IC Case Hints at Autoimmunity

    Pacella M, Varca V, Venzano F, Toncini C, Carmignani G, Simonato A. Interstitial cystitis with plasma cell bladder infiltration: case report and literature review. Arch Ital Urol Androl. 2010 Jun;82(2):122-4.
    This report describes a case of IC in a patient with “overactive bladder” whose bladder wall was infiltrated with plasma cells. The author noted that only one similar case has been published on. This patient also had perinuclear antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (p-ANCA), implying an autoimmune cause of her condition. The 76-year-old woman got some benefit from corticosteroid therapy, but had to discontinue because of side effects. Her condition worsened t the point where she had a cystectomy and a neobladder.

Changes in Bladder Function and Plantar Sensitivity in Fibromyalgia Model Induced by Hydrochloric Acid Injected in Gluteus

    Furuta, A, Suzuki,Y, Koike, Y, Naruoka, T, Furuta, N, Egawa, S, Chancellor, M, Yoshimura, N. American Urological Association (AUA) 2010 Annual Meeting, May 29 – June 3, 2010, San Francisco, CA.
    Fibromyalgia may play a role in IC bladder symptoms, and treatment of fibromyalgia tender points might ease IC symptoms. Those are the implications of an animal study of organ cross-sensitization. Rats that receive an injection of an irritating substance (which does not damage tissue) in a fibromyalgia tender point in the gluteal muscle become hypersensitive to touch, just as fibromyalgia patients are thought to. These researchers discovered that the rats also had IC-like bladder symptoms develop (bladder “spasms,” low bladder capacity, and urinating at low bladder volumes), unlike rats that got a neutral injection. Furthermore, the bladder symptoms eased significantly for two weeks after the rats got treated with injection of an anesthetic (lidocaine) into the gluteal muscle trigger point. The study suggests, not only that body-organ cross-sensitization might play a role in IC, but also that treating fibromyalgia tender points in muscles might help ease IC symptoms.

Pain and PH: Acid-Sensing Channels (ASICS) May Play a Role in Bladder Pain Syndrome (BPS)

    Sánchez-Freire, V, Blanchard, M, Burkhard, FC, Kessler, TM, Kuhn, A, Kellenberger, S, Monastyrskaya, K. American Urological Association (AUA) 2010 Annual Meeting, May 29 – June 3, 2010, San Francisco, CA.
    Whether food acid prompts your food-related flares has been debated by researchers. An instillation study a few years ago threw doubt on that idea. But this year, Swedish researchers reported that they found more active, acid-sensing channels in bladder lining and bladder muscle cells of IC patients than in controls. These acid-sensing channels may be responsible for IC patients’ increased sensitivity to pain related to chemicals in the bladder. In the future, these researchers will be looking at how the function of these channels influences the “leakiness” of the bladder lining.

Elevation of Serum C-Reactive Protein and Urinary NGF Levels in OAB and IC Implies Chronic Inflammation in the Urinary Bladder

    Chung, S, Liu, H, Kuo, H. American Urological Association (AUA) 2010 Annual Meeting, May 29 – June 3, 2010, San Francisco, CA.
    Whether inflammation plays a role in IC has been a point of contention among IC experts. Clinicians don’t always see it in the bladders of IC patients, and that has fed the controversy over what to call IC, since there’s no “itis” without inflammation. But this study shows evidence that IC patients do have chronic inflammation. Levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation, as well as of NGF, were high in IC patients’ bloodstreams. Overactive bladder patients also had elevated levels compared with controls (with higher levels of NGF than IC patients but lower levels of CRP). That helps point to the bladder as the likely culprit in inflammation.

Ghrelin-A Putative Mechanistic Link Between OAB and Obesity

    Tyagi, V, Tyagi, P, Peters, K, Chuang, Y, Kuo, H, Yoshimura, N, Chancellor, M. American Urological Association (AUA) 2010 Annual Meeting, May 29 – June 3, 2010, San Francisco, CA.
    There has been at least one curious case of IC resolving after an obese patient underwent bariatric surgery. In addition, recent studies have linked overactive bladder (OAB) and obesity. These observations led researchers to speculate whether ghrelin, known as the “hunger protein,” might play a role in bladder problems. There’s no research on IC yet, but this study on OAB showed that when researchers added ghrelin to strips of bladder in the lab, contractions slowed. There may be implications, not only for developing OAB drugs, but also for easing IC patients’ frequency and bladder spasms.

Vulvar and Extra-Vulvar Pain Thresholds in Patients with Provoked, Localized Vulvodynia

    Basha, M, Kellogg-Spadt, S, Ruberu, M, Mosiniak, S, Wehbe, S, Fariello, JY, Rebja Hoffman, A, Grothusen, J, Whitmore, K. American Urological Association (AUA) 2010 Annual Meeting, May 29 – June 3, 2010, San Francisco, CA.
    Women with the most common type of vulvodynia have bladder pain and altered sensation in the pelvic area and elsewhere in the body. That implies a kind of altered sensory processing is involved. The study included 12 controls and 9 women with provoked, localized vulvodynia (PLV), which is characterized by pain around the entrance to the vagina provoked by a pressure or touch that is not normally painful (called allodynia). The investigators checked the women’s sensation and pain thresholds with sensory tests at the left forearm, right vulva and left vulva and tests of pain thresholds to touch and heat. They also had the women fill out the O’Leary-Sant Interstitial Cystitis Symptom and Problem Indexes (ICSI/ICPI) and pain ratings for bladder pain with activity and sexual intercourse. The women with PLV had significantly more bladder pain with activity and intercourse, higher ICSI/ICPI scores, and lower pain thresholds to touch and cold on the forearm. These findings indicate that the pain women with PLV experience is neuropathic, or nerve-generated, pain.


    • Sensation Processing May Be Altered in IC

      Kilpatrick LA, Ornitz E, Ibrahimovic H, Hubbard CS, Rodríguez LV, Mayer EA, Naliboff BD. Gating of Sensory Information Differs in Patients with Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome. J Urol. 2010 Sep;184(3):958-963.

      These researchers measured a feature of the startle reflex and levels of acute stress and “neuroticism” in 14 women with IC and 17 healthy women. Normally, people startle less when they get a mild “warning” shock, but the IC patients didn’t show this characteristic as much as the healthy women. The deficit was more severe in the IC patients who reported more stress, but IC patients who were more “neurotic” had less of this deficit. The investigators concluded that the IC patients had decreased ability to “filter” incoming information about sensations. The small, unblinded study did not compare the results in IC patients with other pain patients or test whether these features changed with adequate pain control.

    • Flares, Bacteria Not Connected

      Nickel JC, Shoskes DA, Irvine-Bird K. Prevalence and Impact of Bacteriuria and/or Urinary Tract Infection in Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome. Urology. 2010 Jun 21. [Epub ahead of print]

      Patients with IC can have bacteria in their urine, but that’s not connected with flares, showed this study of 100 patients with IC. These patients gave a urine sample each time they went to the urologist for IC treatment, including for flares, and at regular follow-up visits. Over the course of two years, there were no differences in age, length of symptoms, scores on standard IC-related questionnaires, or ratings of pain, frequency, or urgency between patients who had typical infectious bacteria in their urine and those without bacteria. There was no correlation either between the number of times bacteria appeared in urine and symptoms. Also, symptoms didn’t change after patients took antibiotics and the bacteria were eradicated.

    • Ketamine Abuse Can Look Like UTI or IC

      Noorzurani R, Vicknasingam B, Narayanan S. Illicit ketamine induced frequency of micturition in a young Malay woman. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2010 May;29(3):334-6.

      Ketamine abuse, particularly prevalent in Asia and growing in the United States, can produce severe, IC-like disease in the bladder. In this case report of a young Malay woman, the problem was initially misdiagnosed as a urinary tract infection. When antibiotics didn’t’ resolve the problem, she was referred to a urologist who did cystoscopy and biopsy and reported IC-like changes. Growing concern about ketamine abuse means that more doctors today may ask patients with IC symptoms about their drug use history.

    • IC and Autonomic Problems More Common in Women than in Men who Faint

      Ulas UH, Chelimsky TC, Chelimsky G, Mandawat A, McNeeley K, Alshekhlee A. Comorbid health conditions in women with syncope. Clin Auton Res. 2010 May 11. [Epub ahead of print]

      These neurologists have been looking at the possible connections between problems with the autonomic nervous system—the system that controls body functions such as heart rate, digestion, and sweating—and IC and related conditions. Based on a review of hundreds of thousands of hospital records of people admitted because they fainted, the researchers found that women had higher rates of other autonomic dysfunctions, especially during the reproductive years, than men. IC, of course, occurred at higher rates. The women were about seven times more likely to have an IC diagnosis than the men. Comparing similar age groups, the researchers found the women had more autonomic disorders, such as stomach emptying problems and racing heartbeat and low blood pressure on standing as well as somewhat higher rates of associated conditions, such as migraine and chronic fatigue syndrome. In women, the problems were especially prominent during the reproductive years.

    • Levels of Vitamin D Are Related to Pelvic Floor Disorders

      Badalian SS, Rosenbaum PF. Vitamin D and pelvic floor disorders in women: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Apr;115(4):795-803.

      An analysis of the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data shows that vitamin D levels were significantly lower in women reporting at least one pelvic floor disorder and for women with urinary incontinence, regardless of age. In addition, women with higher levels of vitamin D had lower risk of having pelvic floor disorders. (The pelvic floor disorders most often treated in gynecology are prolapses, but these disorders also include pelvic floor muscle dysfunction often seen in IC.) That applied to all women from age 20 up and also to the subset of women age 50 and older. In this older group, the risk of urinary incontinence was reduced when blood levels of vitamin D levels were 30 ng/mL or higher. (A level less than 30 ng/mL is considered insufficient.) Other studies have found links between vitamin D levels and chronic pain, so it may be worthwhile to talk to your doctor about checking your level of vitamin D.

    • Does Your Period Affect Your IC Symptoms? You are Not Alone

      Symptoms of IC as well as fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) worsen for some women during the premenstrual and menstrual phase of their cycle, when estrogen drops. The news comes from a study led by Thomas Chelimsky, MD, professor of neurology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, that was presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Toronto. The study included 129 women with IC, 79 women with IBS, and 77 women with fibromyalgia who filled out questionnaires throughout their cycle. Nine percent of the IC patients, 25 percent of the IBS patients, and 18 percent of the fibromyalgia patients reported their symptoms got worse before or during their period, when estrogen drops. Some studies indicate that women who take birth control pills with estrogen have fewer symptoms than women who don’t. How estrogen affects pain is still being researched. Some studies indicate an increase in pain and some a decrease.

    • Bladder Pain May Result from Abundant Nerves with Cannabinoid Receptor

      Mukerji G, Yiangou Y, Agarwal SK, Anand P. Increased Cannabinoid Receptor 1-Immunoreactive Nerve Fibers in Overactive and Painful Bladder Disorders and Their Correlation With Symptoms. Urology. 2010 Mar 24. [Epub ahead of print]

      Bladder tissue from patients with IC and bladder spasms has more nerve fibers with receptors for one of the cannabinoids than from controls. This might explain IC pain and could be a basis for IC pain drugs. These researchers investigating the role of the type 1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1) in bladder hypersensitivity and overactivity looked at the density of nerve fibers that react to CB1 in different people. They found that IC patients and patients with unexplained bladder spasms had more of these fibers under the top layer of the bladder lining than controls, who just had some microscopic blood in the urine but no symptoms. The patients with the spasms had more of these nerve fibers in their bladder muscle as well. Moreover, the density of these nerve fibers correlated with the IC patients’ pain scores and with the urgency scores for the bladder spasm patients. These nerve fibers may play a role in both IC bladder pain and urgency in patients with unexplained bladder spasms. The results also mean that stimulators of the CB1 receptors might be helpful treatments.

    • IC Bladder Lining Plays Crucial Role in Nervous System Connection

      Birder LA, Wolf-Johnston AS, Chib MK, Buffington CA, Roppolo JR, Hanna-Mitchell AT. Beyond neurons: Involvement of urothelial and glial cells in bladder function. Neurourol Urodyn. 2009 Dec 18;29(1):88-96. [Epub ahead of print]

      This study of the bladder lining from cats with IC, the connection with the nervous system, and the effects of estrogen on it shows what an important role the bladder lining has in processing sensation and affecting the nervous system. The researchers looked at the bladder lining itself, the nerve root bundle at the spinal cord that serves the bladder, and the grey matter in the spinal cord at the level of the first sacral segment. They also experimented to see whether estrogen could affect signals between cells in the bladder lining. The researchers found that the bladder lining in cats with IC had high levels of nerve growth factor (NGF, which promotes nerve generation and may play a role in IC pain) and substance P (known to conduct pain signals). The high NGF levels may explain the large size of the nerve cells in the in the nerve root bundle. Microscopic and immunologic studies show evidence of a “reactive state,” with increased activation of astrocytes (a type of cell in the nervous system) at the spinal cord. Also, adding estrogen to bladder lining cells changed cellular processes related to inflammation and environmental stressors, depending on what phase of the estrus cycle the female cats were in that donated the cells. That implies that ovarian hormones and menstrual cycles can affect IC and possibly other lower urinary tract functions and the pelvic floor. The authors pointed out that bladder lining cells are often viewed as bystanders in processing sensation from internal organs, but these findings imply that bladder lining cells may be the primary transducers of some physical and chemical stimulation. In addition, the pronounced activation of astrocytes at the spinal cord may play a role in IC and open up new targets for drug treatment.

    • Reason for Surgery, Not Surgery Itself, May Be Linked with IC

      Langenberg PW, Wallach EE, Clauw DJ, Howard FM, Diggs CM, Wesselmann U, Greenberg P, Warren JW. Pelvic pain and surgeries in women before interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Dec 18. [Epub ahead of print]

      Surgery has been linked with getting IC, but it may not be the surgery itself that leads to IC. Women with IC who underwent surgery before they got IC were matched with control women who had the same surgeries and had the same potential reasons for having the surgeries. Although at first, it looked like there was a relationship between having surgery and having IC develop later (if the surgeries had taken place more than a year before or less than a month before IC symptoms started). But when the groups were matched up for the possible reasons for the surgery, that was a much stronger link than just having surgery itself. The strongest link was having had chronic pelvic pain (CPP). In those cases, whether the woman with IC had had surgery was not significant. The authors didn’t think that the CPP was simply undiagnosed IC because those who had CPP didn’t say they had bladder pain, urgency, or frequency before they got IC came or that they had had any IC-like episodes in the previous five years. Chronic pelvic pain started more than 12 months before the IC in 73 percent of cases. The data analyzed in this study is from the EPIC (Epidemiology of IC) study so many of you participated in.

    • Depression Makes Fight-or-Flight System React More in Pelvic Pain Patients

      Wingenfeld K, Hellhammer DH, Schmidt I, Wagner D, Meinlschmidt G, Heim C. HPA axis reactivity in chronic pelvic pain: association with depression. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2009 Dec;30(4):282-6.

      A link between dysfunction of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (the fight-or-flight system) and chronic pelvic pain (CPP) is more prominent when patients are also depressed, shows a study that measured their neuroendocrine responses. The investigators measured levels of the HPA hormones cortisol and adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) in 18 patients with CPP during a standard social stress test and during a standard ACTH stimulation test. They also asked patients whether they were depressed and how badly. The women with CPP and low depression showed enhanced ACTH responses to psychosocial stress compared with women with CPP and high depression, but there were no differences in cortisol responses. CPP patients with high depression, however, demonstrated enhanced cortisol responses in the ACTH stimulation test. These results, said the authors, suggest a relationship between depression and reactivity of the HPA axis in patients with CPP.

    • New Approaches and Gene, Protein Screens Hold Promise for Progress

      Dimitrakov J, Dimitrakova E. Urologic chronic pelvic pain syndrome—looking back and looking forward. Folia Med (Plovdiv). 2009 Jul-Sep;51(3):42-4.

      New ways of looking at disease processes in IC and chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) can yield discoveries about the cause, biomarkers, and new treatments for these conditions, these authors argue. They take a look at the new theories of the causes and disease processes and outline an approach that should help reveal them and produce the discovery of new markers. The information gained from high-volume genetic and protein screens should help researchers develop effective treatments.

    • Potential Viral Cause of IC Gets Renewed Attention

      Berger RE. Urological survey: infection and inflammation of the genitourinary tract. J Urol. 2009 Dec;182(6); 2759-60. Comment on Eisen DP, Fraser IR, Sung LM, Finlay M, Bowden S, O’Connell H. Decreased viral load and symptoms of polyomavirus-associated chronic interstitial cystitis after intravesical cidofovir treatment. Clin Infect Dis 2009; 48:e86–e88.

      Could some cases of IC be caused by a virus? We should not forget that possibility as we search for the cause, wrote this urologist. Café ICA covered this case report in the research summaries last April, but there’s good reason to be reminded now about a potential viral cause of IC. Recently, researchers found that 67 percent of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients were infected with the XMRV virus, compared with only 3.7 percent of healthy controls. The link between CFS and XMRV has renewed the scientific community’s interest in a possible viral cause for certain cases of CFS, and previous research into immune irregularities and viruses in CFS is now receiving renewed attention. The IC article described the case of a patient who had high levels of a polyomavirus, called BK virus, in her urine. This virus is known best for causing kidney damage in some kidney transplant patients (who take immunosuppressive drugs), but it can also cause a severe kind of cystitis with bleeding. The IC patient got much better after bladder instillation of an antiviral medication. The author of this comment suggested that studies looking for the BK virus in IC patients may be warranted, especially since the infection is treatable.  


    • Chronic Testicular Pain Related to Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

      Planken E, Voorham-van der Zalm PJ, B Lycklama À Nijeholt AA, Elzevier HW. Chronic Testicular Pain as a Symptom of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. J Urol. 2009 Nov 12. [Epub ahead of print]

      Similar to women with IC, men with IC may also have pelvic floor dysfunction, and testicular pain may be a manifestation of it. This study connected chronic testicular pain to pelvic floor dysfunction by demonstrating with standard tests that men with this pain had pelvic floor problems. The 41 patients with chronic testicular pain answered a standardized questionnaire that asks about urinary, bowel, and sexual function related to the pelvic floor. The men also underwent electromyography of the pelvic floor. That test measures pelvic floor tone, and normal tone is supposed to measure under 3 microvolts. In this group, 93 percent of the patients had at least on symptom typical of pelvic floor dysfunction; 22 percent had complaints in one of the three functions, 24 percent in two, and 49 percent in all three. Electromyography showed that 88 percent of the men had abnormally high pelvic floor tone. The study implies that men with IC who have testicular pain—or other signs of pelvic floor dysfunction—may benefit from treatments directed toward the pelvic floor, such as physical therapy.


  • Colon-Bladder Cross-sensitization Takes Place in Periphery

    Brumovsky PR, Feng B, Xu L, McCarthy CJ, Gebhart GF. Cystitis increases colorectal afferent sensitivity in the mouse. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2009 Oct 1. [Epub ahead of print]

    In these animal studies, researchers found that irritation of the bladder increased the sensitivity of colon and rectal afferent (sensing) nerves to mechanical stimulation (such as stretching) and increased the proportion of colon and rectal afferents that sensitive to chemical changes. The study supports the idea that cross-sensitization taking place between the organs themselves contributes to the phenomenon.

  • IC Patients May Not Get Used to Certain Sensations

    Lowenstein L, Kenton K, Mueller ER, Brubaker L, Heneghan M, Senka J, Fitzgerald MP. Patients with painful bladder syndrome have altered response to thermal stimuli and catastrophic reaction to painful experiences. Neurourol Urodyn. 2009;28(5):400-4.

    IC patients’ nerves may not be more sensitive to bothersome sensations, but patients may not be able to get used to the sensations. Researchers tested 11 patients’ and 10 controls’ sensation of warmth in the areas above the pubis (over the bladder), which is served by nerves from the T12 level of the spinal cord, and on the buttocks surrounding the anal area, which is served by nerves from the S3 level of the spinal cord. Patients were actually less sensitive to warmth in the T12 area than controls, but had the same level of sensation on other parts of their body. Controls got used to the warmth in these two areas faster than the patients. Patients’ score on a pain “catastrophizing” (helplessness and hopelessness) scale were higher for those who had worse symptoms, those who had had symptoms for a longer time, and those who needed higher temperatures above the bladder to feel the sensation.

  • Review Shows Overlap Between IC and Other Conditions

    Rodríguez MA, Afari N, Buchwald DS; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Working Group on Urological Chronic Pelvic Pain. Evidence for Overlap Between Urological and Nonurological Unexplained Clinical Conditions. J Urol. 2009 Sep 14. [Epub ahead of print]

    Medical literature details considerable overlap between IC and many other conditions, especially irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Estimates of the overlap with IBS range up to 79 percent. Overlap was difficult to estimate, said the authors, because definitions varied. The group called for standardized definitions and rigorously designed, well-controlled studies to assess the overlap and look at what the common mechanisms might be.

  • Uncontrolled Study Suggests Role of Nanobacteria

    Zhang QH, Shen XC, Zhou ZS, Chen ZW, Lu GS, Song B. Decreased nanobacteria levels and symptoms of nanobacteria-associated interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome after tetracycline treatment. Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct. 2009 Sep 17. [Epub ahead of print]

    These Chinese researchers said they grew microbes “similar to nanobacteria” from IC bladder tissue. In addition, a genetic study suggested that nanobacteria might be the disease-causing organisms. In 11 patients, tetracycline treatment reduced levels of the nanobacteria and eased symptoms. These researchers concluded that nanobacteria may cause some cases of IC/painful bladder syndrome (PBS). This study did not have a healthy control group for comparison, however.

  • Lack of Estrogen May Increase Pain Sensitivity

    Sanoja R, Cervero F. Estrogen-dependent changes in visceral afferent sensitivity. Auton Neurosci. 2009 Jul 22. [Epub ahead of print]

    There has been debate in medicine over the role of estrogen in chronic pain, with some suggesting that estrogen increases pain sensitivity, But these anesthesiologists say no. In their experience, permanent reductions in estrogen levels, such as when ovaries are removed, actually brings on hyperalgesia, that is, hypersensitivity to pain. The type of hyperalgesia that they often see in patients without estrogen is sensitivity to touch or pressure and to temperature in the abdominal and pelvic regions as well as sensitivity of the internal organs themselves. The phenomenon has a slow onset, and it lasts a long time, but it can be prevented or reversed when patients take estrogen, said the authors. They discussed the possible role of estrogen in preventing chronic painful states.

  • Abdominal Myofascial Pain Can Contribute to Chronic Pelvic Pain

    Montenegro ML, Gomide LB, Mateus-Vasconcelos EL, Rosa-E-Silva JC, Candido-Dos-Reis FJ, Nogueira AA, Poli-Neto OB. Abdominal myofascial pain syndrome must be considered in the differential diagnosis of chronic pelvic pain. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2009 Jul 21. [Epub ahead of print]

    Abdominal myofascial pain syndrome often accompanies chronic pelvic pain in women and needs to be diagnosed early so unnecessary investigations can be avoided, argue these gynecologists. They said that evidence points to the musculoskeletal system being compromised in some way in most women with chronic pelvic pain and that in 15 percent of these cases, chronic pelvic pain and abdominal myofascial pain syndrome go hand in hand.

  • Trigger Points Overlap with Acupuncture Points

    Dorsher PT. Myofascial Referred-Pain Data Provide Physiologic Evidence of Acupuncture Meridians. J Pain. 2009 Apr 29. [Epub ahead of print]

    Pain from internal organs, such as the bladder, refers to very specific trigger points in muscles and tissues of the outer body. Those trigger points correspond well to anatomically related acupuncture points, lending some physiologic credibility to acupuncture points. This physical medicine specialist superimposed referred pain patterns for different subsets of trigger points onto a virtual human model along with the acupuncture points related to specific organs. (Traditional acupuncture points are along meridians that correspond to 12 organs.) For all 12 subsets of trigger point regions, their referred pain patterns predicted the distribution of the corresponding acupuncture meridians, especially in the extremities. Interestingly, a bladder acupoint (BL-28) at the level of the second segment of the sacrum (S2) appears to “regulate the bladder” and “facilitate urination.” Physicians typically implant the InterStim neuromodulation device to stimulate the S2 nerve root. That “provides a contemporary example of allopathic medicine’s rediscovery of the clinical findings of the acupuncture tradition,” said the author.

  • IL-8 Could Be Key to IC

    Tseng-Rogenski S, Liebert M. Interleukin 8 is essential for normal urothelial cell survival. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2009 Jun 17. [Epub ahead of print]

    The immune system chemical interleukin 8 (IL-8, CXCL8) is essential for the survival of normal urinary tract lining (urothelial) cells, and the levels are low in IC patients. These findings may be important keys to the cause of IC. These researchers discovered this through a number of experiments. They found that supplementing cultures of normal urothelial cells with IL-8 promoted cell growth. Inhibiting IL-8 expression with a small piece of RNA caused normal urothelial cells to die. Adding IL-8 back, however, rescued them. That rescue process, in turn, could be blocked by antibodies to one of the receptors for IL-8. IC patients have low levels of mRNA for IL-8, the genetic messenger that helps assemble this protein.

  • Early Bladder Inflammation Linked to Adult Bladder Hypersensitivity in Rats

    Randich A, Mebane H, Ness TJ. Ice water testing reveals hypersensitivity in adult rats that experienced neonatal bladder inflammation: implications for painful bladder syndrome/interstitial cystitis. J Urol. 2009 Jul;182(1):337-42. Epub 2009 May 17.

    Rats that had bladder inflammation shortly after birth had hypersensitive bladders (to cold) as adults. That was not true of rats whose bladders weren’t inflamed, found these researchers. In addition, it did not take re-inflammation in adulthood for this hypersensitivity to be present. The effects of inflammation shortly after birth did not relate to hormonal cycles.

  • Females Have More Bladder Sensors for Pain from Acid

    Kobayashi H, Yoshiyama M, Zakoji H, Takeda M, Araki I. Sex differences in the expression profile of acid-sensing ion channels in the mouse urinary bladder: a possible involvement in irritative bladder symptoms. BJU Int. 2009 Jun 2. [Epub ahead of print]

    Acid-sensitive ion channels (ASICs), which are thought to play an important role in pain perception, are abundant in the bladder and are expressed much more in female than in male mice. Although the expression of a vanilloid receptor (the type that responds to hot pepper-like substances) was also different in males and females, the researchers found that it was not as abundantly expressed as ASICs. ASICs may be involved in the different response of the sexes to acid irritation in the bladder.

  • Immune System, Inflammatory Genes Revved Up in IC

    Gamper M, Viereck V, Geissbuehler V, Eberhard J, Binder J, Moll C, Rehrauer H, Moser R. Gene expression profile of bladder tissue of patients with ulcerative interstitial cystitis. BMC Genomics. 2009 Apr 28;10(1):199. [Epub ahead of print]

    IC patients with Hunner’s ulcers have some 1,000 genes that are more active than in healthy people -- in patterns that are similar to those of people with immune system, lymphatic, and autoimmune disease. These Swiss researchers looked at what genes were expressed in tissue from the bladders of IC patients who have Hunner’s ulcers. The gene chips detected some 3,500 signals that were different between IC patients and healthy people, including about 2,000 that were expressed more than twice as much, which correlates to some 1,000 genes. They noted those patterns and also said that the dominant biological processes represented were immune and inflammatory responses. Many of the up-regulated genes were expressed in white blood cells, suggesting that invasion of these cells into the bladder wall is a dominant feature of IC with Hunner’s ulcers. Looking at the gene expression picture in IC patients who don’t have Hunner’s ulcers will help show whether these gene expression differences could help diagnose IC.

  • Polyoma Virus May Cause Some IC

    Eisen DP, Fraser IR, Sung LM, Finlay M, Bowden S, O’Connell H. Decreased viral load and symptoms of polyomavirus-associated chronic interstitial cystitis after intravesical cidofovir treatment. Clin Infect Dis. 2009 May 1;48(9):e86-8.

    In this case report from a hospital in Australia, the urologists describe a patient who had high levels of a polyomavirus in the urine. After the urologists began treatment with an instillation of cidofovir (an anti-viral medicine), virus levels decreased dramatically, and the patient got much better. Another patient with milder symptoms had the virus in their urine intermittently. Polyomaviruses, particularly BK virus, may cause some cases of IC, the authors concluded.

  • Blood Vessel Growth Factor May Play Role in Pinpoint Bleeding, Pain

    Kiuchi H, Tsujimura A, Takao T, Yamamoto K, Nakayama J, Miyagawa Y, Nonomura N, Takeyama M, Okuyama A. Increased vascular endothelial growth factor expression in patients with bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis: its association with pain severity and glomerulations. BJU Int. 2009 Mar 4. [Epub ahead of print]

    Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) can prompt the growth of blood vessels that are abnormal. The vessels are immature and don’t have the normal coverage of pericytes, which are a type of smooth muscle cell that surrounds the outside of blood vessels. When there aren’t enough of these cells covering blood vessels, they leak. To find out whether VEGF plays a role in the glomerulations in IC patients’ bladders, these researchers took tissue specimens from the bladders of 30 IC patients with glomerulations (pinpoint bleeding) and 10 controls without glomerulations and looked at the tissue for expression of VEGF, the density of small blood vessels, and the proportion of immature blood vessels, which aren’t sufficiently covered by pericytes. IC patients had significantly higher expression of VEGF than controls. In addition, patients with worse pain had significantly more VEGF than patients with mild pain. IC patients also had a higher proportion of immature vessels than controls, although the density of small vessels was not significantly different from the density in controls. VEGF may contribute to pain and promote the formation of immature vessels in IC patients’ bladders, playing a role in glomerulation, the team concluded.

  • Genetics Researchers Urge Genome-wide Studies for IC and Chronic Prostatitis

    Dimitrakov J, Guthrie D. Genetics and Phenotyping of Urological Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome. J Urol. 2009 Feb 19. [Epub ahead of print]

    This review article points out that treatment for IC/painful bladder syndrome and chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome are still symptom based, and we don’t know the cause or causes. New ideas are emerging, however, about the role of the sympathetic nervous system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and about the genetic basis of these conditions. Because genome-wide studies have been successful in other diseases where many genes are in play, similar studies in these conditions may also prove successful. That will depend on carefully defining the patient populations to study, and this article outlines a way to do that. The authors believe that new methods for studying the whole genome without a bias for any particular set of genes in well-defined patient groups have great potential for making progress in understanding and treating these conditions.

  • Sensitive IC Bladder Lining Receptors Point in New Research Direction

    Gupta GN, Lu SG, Gold MS, Chai TC. Bladder urothelial cells from patients with interstitial cystitis have an increased sensitivity to carbachol. Neurourol Urodyn. 2009 Mar 12. [Epub ahead of print]

    Muscarinic receptors are known for the role they play in the bladder muscle because these are the ones that overactive bladder drugs target. But the receptors exist in bladder lining, too. And, as these researchers have discovered, the receptors in IC bladders are more sensitive than those in normal bladders. Adding carbachol, an activator of the receptor, to cultures of bladder lining cells prompted changes in the concentration of calcium ions in the cells. But that change was much greater in IC cells than non-IC cells. Removing calcium available to the cells or adding an overactive bladder drug erased the difference. That muscarinic signals may be involved in the IC disease process is a new idea that needs to be investigated further, said the researchers.

  • Connection Gets Clearer Between Bladder Inflammation, Pain Transmission

    Hayashi Y, Takimoto K, Chancellor MB, Erickson KA, Erickson VL, Kirimoto T, Nakano K, de Groat WC, Yoshimura N. Bladder hyperactivity and increased excitability of bladder afferent neurons associated with reduced expression of Kv1.4 {alpha}-subunit in rats with cystitis. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2009 Mar 11. [Epub ahead of print]

    What’s the connection between inflammation in IC bladders and pain signaling in nerves? It’s not well known, so this team took a closer look at the function of nerve cells that transmit signals from inflamed bladders. Nerve cells sensitive to capsaicin (the hot pepper substance) in normal animals had high thresholds for excitation, but those from animals with irritated bladders had low thresholds and abnormal firing patterns as well. Nerve cells from irritated bladders had fewer of a particular type of potassium channel related to nerve signaling than normal. These and their other findings, said the authors, suggest that bladder inflammation increases the excitability of nerve cells carrying signals from the bladder by decreasing the expression of this type of potassium channel. Similar changes in the pain-signaling nerve fibers that are sensitive to capsaicin may contribute to bladder hyperactivity and increased sensitivity to pain caused by bladder inflammation.

  • Stress Factors, Gene Modulators May Bring New Theories, Therapies

    Buffington CA. Developmental Influences on Medically Unexplained Symptoms. Psychother Psychosom. 2009 Mar 9;78(3):139-144. [Epub ahead of print]

    This review suggests that developmental factors may play a role in some cases of medically unexplained symptoms. An example may be perception of threat by a mother that may be transmitted to a fetus when hormones cross the placenta. The hormones may “program” the stress response system for enhanced vigilance. Intense stress in early life may have similar effects that are unmasked by other stressors later in life. Modulation of gene expression may play a role in this process, and new techniques to identify gene modulators may be a helpful research avenue.

  • IC Patients More Easily Startled

    Twiss C, Kilpatrick L, Craske M, Buffington CA, Ornitz E, Rodríguez LV, Mayer EA, Naliboff BD. Increased Startle Responses in Interstitial Cystitis: Evidence for Central Hyperresponsiveness to Visceral Related Threat. J Urol. 2009 Mar 13. [Epub ahead of print]

    These researchers take the startle reflex to be a marker of emotional circuits in the brain that may amplify the response to pain. Thirteen IC patients showed greater responses to a threat (of the application of muscle-stimulating electrodes over the bladder) than 16 healthy patients. Higher rates of anxiety and depression in the patients didn’t account for the difference. This supports the idea that this abnormality may be involved in heightened perception of signals from the bladder in IC.

  • Women with IC Had Symptoms, Infections as Kids

    Peters KM, Killinger KA, Ibrahim IA. Childhood Symptoms and Events in Women With Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome. Urology. 2008 Nov 24. [Epub ahead of print]

    In childhood and adolescence, IC/PBS patients had more urinary tract infections, frequent use of antibiotics, urgency, trouble starting a stream, urinary retention, constipation, and painful defecation than their bladder-healthy counterparts, according to the results of a survey. Further statistical analysis showed significant differences between the patients and controls in bladder infections in childhood and urinary urgency in adolescence. The survey compared the health histories of 215 patients diagnosed with IC, 126 "controls" who had IC/PBS symptoms, and 464 controls with no symptoms. Children with elimination symptoms need to be followed up over the long term to see whether their symptoms progress to IC/PBS; this kind of research will contribute to our understanding of the natural history of IC/PBS, promote its earlier diagnosis, and potentially prevent progression of the disease, said the authors.

  • IC-like Dysfunction Common in Lupus Patients with UTIs

    Duran-Barragan S, Ruvalcaba-Naranjo H, Rodriguez-Gutierrez L, Solano-Moreno H, Hernandez-Rios G, Sanchez-Ortiz A, Ramos-Remus C. Recurrent urinary tract infections and bladder dysfunction in systemic lupus erythematosus. Lupus. 2008;17(12):1117-21.

    Among women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) who have recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), most have urinary symptoms including urgency, frequency, nocturia, and pain. That was the conclusion of these Mexican researchers who looked at urinary symptoms and did urodynamics studies in 10 SLE patients who had recurrent UTIs. The patients' scores were high on standard IC questionnaires and on an autonomic symptom scale. Also, urodynamics showed two had small bladder capacity, four had reduced bladder sensation, one had subnormal urinary flow, and two had a significant amount of urine remaining in the bladder after urination. The urodynamics results suggest that bladder dysfunction may be the reason for recurrent UTIs in SLE patients, said the authors.

  • Pain Itself May Spread Inflammation, Damage

    Fiorentino PM, Tallents RH, Miller JN, Brouxhon SM, O'Banion MK, Puzas JE, Kyrkanides S. Spinal interleukin-1beta in a mouse model of arthritis and joint pain. Arthritis Rheum. 2008 Oct;58(10):3100-9.

    An intriguing new study on arthritis may have implications for IC because it sheds new light on the nerve "crosstalk" that may occur between different sites in the body in chronic pain conditions. The discovery is that the nerve processing of pain itself from arthritic joints may actually transfer inflammation to new joints, worsening and expanding arthritis in the body. That may be another reason not to tough out pain, especially in the early stages of a pain condition, so that it doesn't expand.

    University of Rochester (New York) researchers developed genetically engineered mice in which they could induce production of the inflammatory protein interleukin 1-beta (IL-1beta) in the jaw. When they did, the levels of IL-1beta also went up in the nerve roots at the spinal cord. In addition, when the researchers induced higher levels of IL-1beta in spinal cord cells, that caused more arthritis symptoms in joints. Apparently, it is the nervous system that spreads inflammation from one joint to another.

    Experimentally interfering with IL-1beta signaling reversed the effects. Some existing drugs for rheumatoid arthritis act similarly, and the researchers are looking at these drugs as a treatment, not just for rheumatoid arthritis, but also for osteoarthritis.

  • Gender May Influence IC Symptoms

    Yoshiyama M, Kobayashi H, Araki I, Du S, Zakoji H, Takeda M. Sex-related differences in activity of lower urinary tract in response to intravesical acid irritation in decerebrate unanesthetized mice. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2008 Jul 23. [Epub ahead of print]

    In this study of bladder irritation in animals, males and females showed markedly different symptoms in response to the same irritation. In general, female bladders were more sensitive to acid irritation, whereas the male urethra was more irritable than the female urethra. In response to the irritation, both sexes had more bladder spasms, but females' bladder contractions were much more frequent. Irritation reduced the maximum pressure for voiding but had no effect on the threshold of bladder pressure that caused a voiding contraction in females. In males, however, the maximum voiding pressure didn't change, but the threshold of pressure that prompted a voiding contraction increased. Male mice also had persistent dribbling of fluid after voiding, whereas females did not. Finding out why males and females respond differently to bladder irritation might reveal more about the nature of IC.

Revised May 30, 2013