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Female Urologic Pain in Adulthood May Be Related to Stresses Early in Life

Pierce AN, Di Silvestro ER, Eller OK, Wang R, Ryals JM, Christianson JA. Urinary bladder hypersensitivity and dysfunction in female mice following early life and adult stress. Brain Res. 2016 Mar 1. pii: S0006-8993(16)30098-1. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2016.02.039. [Epub ahead of print]

It is known that stress can exacerbate the symptoms of interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome (IC/BPS). This animal study provides evidence that adverse events early in life might predispose women to developing IC/BPS as adults. The investigators in the study tested the effects of a stressful event on adult female mice who, at birth, had experienced neonatal maternal separation (NMS). Based on past studies, it is known that maternal separation causes a variety of long-lasting emotional and anxiety related behaviors in mice. They found that in these mice who experienced NMS early in life, a stressful event in adulthood caused a significant increase in urination rate and output compared with a group of mice who did not undergo NMS. Moreover, the NMS mice had changes in gene expression related to regulation of the stress response system. Based on these and a variety of other experimental findings, the investigators concluded that early life stress is a potential underlying cause of stress-related bladder symptom onset later in life.