Machine learning-assisted fluoroscopy of bladder function in awake mice
AbstractUnderstanding the lower urinary tract (LUT) and development of highly needed novel therapies to treat LUT disorders depends on accurate techniques to monitor LUT (dys)function in preclinical models. We recently developed videocystometry in rodents, which combines intravesical pressure measurements with X-ray-based fluoroscopy of the LUT, allowing the in vivo analysis of the process of urine storage and voiding with unprecedented detail. Videocystometry relies on the precise
... d determination of the bladder volume at high temporal resolution, which can readily be achieved in anesthetized or otherwise motion-restricted mice but not in awake and freely moving animals. To overcome this limitation, we developed a machine-learning method, in which we trained a neural network to automatically detect the bladder in fluoroscopic images, allowing the automatic analysis of bladder filling and voiding cycles based on large sets of time-lapse fluoroscopic images (>3 hours at 30 images/second) from behaving mice and in a non-invasive manner. With this approach, we found that urethane, an injectable anesthetic that is commonly used in preclinical urological research, has a profound, dose-dependent effect on urethral relaxation and voiding duration and that implantation of a suprapubic catheter, as is standardly performed for cystometric analyses, leads to a ∼4-fold reduction in bladder capacity. Our findings provide a paradigm for the non-invasive, in vivo monitoring of a hollow organ in behaving animals and pinpoint important limitations of the current gold standard techniques to study the LUT in mice.