Understanding overactive bladder and urgency incontinence: what does the brain have to do with it?

Understanding the pathophysiologic mechanisms responsible for overactive bladder (OAB) and urgency urinary incontinence (UUI) is critical to advancing the treatment options available to men and women with this prevalent and bothersome condition. Development of novel technologies and advanced functional neuroimaging modalities has provided us with new information to support and refine existing mechanistic theories. Emerging research on central pathophysiologic mechanisms of OAB from functional magnetic resonance imaging may provide new targets for therapeutic interventions and opens the door for novel treatment strategies. Several regions of interest-specifically the anterior cingulate gyrus, insula, and frontal cortices-have been implicated as areas of activation in women with OAB, suggesting a neural correlate of the experience of urgency. The cerebellum and parietal lobe have demonstrated increased activation during inhibition of voiding, and increased connectivity between the cerebellum and parietal lobe and the right insula and anterior cingulate gyrus has been demonstrated in women with UUI compared with controls. Evolving literature is beginning to shed light on the prerequisite effective connections between regions of interest in the healthy bladder and negative connectivity in OAB and UUI. Precision medicine with individualized care pathways may better select available treatment modalities for rightful recipients, thus improving efficacy with prescribed treatment approaches and adherence to therapy.

F1000Research. 2018 Nov 29*** epublish ***

Ariana L Smith

Division of Urology, University of Pennsylvania , Philadelphia, PA, USA.