• Yoshimura N (2003). [New insights into neural mechanisms controlling the micturition reflex]. Nippon Yakurigaku Zasshi 121:290-8. Summary: The functions of the lower urinary tract, to store and periodically release urine, are dependent on the activity of smooth and striated muscles in the bladder, urethra, and external urethral sphincter. This activity is in turn controlled by neural circuits in the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral ganglia. During urine storage, the outlet is closed and the bladder smooth muscle is quiescent. When bladder volume reaches the micturition threshold, activation of a micturition center in the dorsolateral pons (the pontine micturition center) induces a bladder contraction and a reciprocal relaxation of the urethra, leading to bladder emptying. During voiding, sacral parasympathetic (pelvic) nerves provide an excitatory input (cholinergic and purinergic) to the bladder and inhibitory input (nitrergic) to the urethra. The brain rostral to the pons (diencephalon and cerebral cortex) is also involved in excitatory and inhibitory regulation of the micturition reflex. Various transmitters including dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, excitatory and inhibitory amino acids, opioids, acetylcholine, and neuropeptides are implicated in the modulation of the micturition reflex in the central nervous system. Therefore, injury or diseases of the nervous system, as well as drugs and disorders of the peripheral organs, can produce bladder and urethral dysfunctions such as urinary frequency, urgency and incontinence, or inefficient bladder emptying. Department of Pharmacology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA. nyos@pitt.edu