Janet Keast (PI)
University of Melbourne
This foundational project will produce mesoscopic and microscopic functional anatomical maps of the sensory and autonomic (motor) neurons that regulate the lower urinary tract (LUT). Neural dysfunction is a major contributor to diverse, largely intractable urological problems, including overactive or underactive bladder, incontinence due to ageing or pelvic surgery, and painful bladder syndrome/interstitial cystitis. We will fill knowledge gaps and overcome diverse technical roadblocks to develop maps that provide a critical foundation for modeling different LUT behaviors, understanding neuromodulatory mechanisms, and determining off-target effects of neuromodulation. We will conduct this study in adult rats, the species where the peripheral and spinal circuitry of the LUT is defined in the most detail and, compared with mice, their larger size facilitates development of devices. Together, this will facilitate development of new methods for normalizing over- or underactivity in these circuits.