BACKGROUNDPhosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PDE5-Is) improve storage symptoms in benign prostatic hyperplasia patients, despite a lack of effect on peak urinary flow rate. Moreover, vardenafil improves urodynamic parameters in spinal cord-injured (SCI) patients with neurogenic detrusor overactivity (NDO). SCI rats also display NDO characterized by nonvoiding contractions (NVCs) during bladder filling, resulting in an increased bladder afferent nerve firing (BANF).OBJECTIVEWe postulated that vardenafil could improve urodynamic parameters by reducing BANF. The effect of vardenafil has been investigated on intravesical pressure by cystometry experiments while recording BANF in response to bladder filling.DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTSComplete T7-T8 spinalization was performed in 15 female adult Sprague-Dawley rats (250-275 g).MEASUREMENTSAt 21-29 d postspinalization, fine filaments were dissected from the L6 dorsal roots and placed across a bipolar electrode. Bladder afferent nerve fibers were identified by electrical stimulation of the pelvic nerve and bladder distension. SCI rats were decerebrated before cystometry experiments. Bladders were filled to determine the maximal bladder filling volume (BFV) for each rat. Then, after bladder stabilization at 75% of maximal BFV, saline (n=7) or vardenafil 1 mg/kg (n=8) was delivered intravenously. NVCs and BANF were recorded for 45 min.RESULTS AND LIMITATIONSIn all SCI rats, BANF was already present and regular at resting conditions (26.2±4.1 spikes per second). During bladder filling, intravesical pressure (IVP) slowly increased with transient NVCs superimposed. Concomitantly, BANF progressively increased up to 2.4-fold at maximal BFV (2.08±0.24 ml). After stabilization at submaximal BFV, BANF was increased by 186±37%. Vardenafil injection induced an immediate decrease in NVCs compared to saline (p<0.001) and BANF (52% decrease vs 28% in saline after 45 min; p<0.001).CONCLUSIONSSystemic vardenafil reduced both NVCs and BANF in unanesthetized, decerebrate, SCI rats. These findings provide new insights into the mechanism of action by which PDE5-Is improve storage symptoms in SCI patients.