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Assessment of serum level of corticotropin-releasing factor in primary nocturnal enuresis

Publication: Journal of Pediatric Urology 2016 Oct 24

PII: S1477-5131(16)30313-8

DOI: 10.1016/j.jpurol.2016.08.030


Primary nocturnal enuresis is one of the sleep related phenomena characterized by disruption in the relationship between arousal and urination. Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) is a neurohormone released from the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus into the median eminence to elicit release of adrenocorticotrophin from the anterior pituitary. It may act to modulate autonomic function and behavior in concert with the endocrine effects. Conflicting animal studies about the role of CRF in micturition, either facilitating or inhibiting, have been raised. It was suggested to be a novel target for treatment of urinary disorders based on the finding that manipulation of CRF in the pontine micturition circuit could affect urodynamic function.


The aim was to throw light on the possible role of CRF in primary monosymptomatic nocturnal enuresis by assessing its serum level.
Subjects and methods

Twenty-nine children aged 8–14 years complaining of primary monosymptomatic nocturnal enuresis and 16 age- and sex-matched healthy children with good toilet control day and night were recruited to the study. History taking, clinical examination, and assessment of serum CRF levels in the morning and evening (9 a.m. and 9 p.m.) were carried out for all patients and controls.
Results and discussion

A positive family history of enuresis was detected in 82.8% of enuretic patients. Serum levels of CRF (both morning and evening) were significantly lower in patients than in controls. Several animal studies suggested that CRF in descending projections from Barrington’s nucleus to the lumbosacral parasympathetic neurons is inhibitory to micturition, which supports our results and the assumption that reduction of the evening serum CRF level could have a role in the occurrence of primary monosymptomatic nocturnal enuresis. No significant difference was found between morning and evening CRF serum levels in either cases or controls, which negates our assumption of having a rhythmic pattern of release (figure). No correlations with age were found. According to their history, all our enuretic patients were deep sleepers. Deep sleep and difficult arousal were found to have a major role in primary monosymptomatic nocturnal enuresis. It was proposed that CRF function may allow arousal to occur before micturition to facilitate preparative behaviors. A lower CRF level may explain deep-sleep pattern in children with enuresis.


CRF was deficient in our enuretic children, which may draw attention to the possible pathophysiological implications in primary nocturnal enuresis (either at the level of loss of inhibitory effect on micturition or lack of arousal in response to bladder distension). Further proof studies are recommended.
Corticotropin-releasing factor serum levels in cases and controls (morning and evening).