In this study, we examined the possibility that 5-HT1A receptors may underlie sexually dimorphic mechanisms affecting the regulation of urethral functions in anesthetized rats. Simultaneous recordings of intravesical pressure under isovolumetric conditions, external urethral sphincter-electromyography, and urethral perfusion pressure were used to examine the effects of a 5-HT1A receptor agonist [8-hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin (8-OH-DPAT)] and antagonist (WAY-100635) on bladder and urethral functions. This research also evaluated the effects of 8-OHDPAT and α-bungarotoxin (a neuromuscular blockade agent) on urethral continence using leak point pressure testing, and the distribution of 5-HT1A receptors in the lower urinary tract was assessed by immunohistochemistry. The serotonergic mechanism that controls the urinary bladder and external urethral sphincter-electromyography activity showed no significant sexual differences, but urethral activity in urethral perfusion pressure and leak point pressure values exhibited some sexual differences. 8-OH-DPAT enhanced urethral pressure during continence in rats of both sexes, but the drug elevated the pressure during voiding in male rats and reduced it in female rats. The distribution of 5-HT1A receptors in the spinal cord also showed some sexual differences. The present study contributes to our understanding of the role of 5-HT1A receptors in physiological and immunohistochemical properties of urethral smooth muscle in rats of different sexes. These findings may be a basis for the future development of pharmacotherapies for stress urinary incontinence in men.
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