Basic and clinical aspects of antimuscarinic agents used to treat overactive bladder

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Antimuscarinic agents are now widely used as the pharmacological therapy for overactive bladder (OAB) because neuronal (parasympathetic nerve) and non-neuronal acetylcholine play a significant role for the bladder function. In this review, we will highlight basic and clinical aspects of eight antimuscarinic agents (oxybutynin, propiverine, tolterodine, solifenacin, darifenacin, trospium, imidafenacin, and fesoterodine) clinically used to treat urinary dysfunction in patients with OAB. The basic pharmacological characteristics of these eight antimuscarinic agents include muscarinic receptor subtype selectivity, functional bladder selectivity, and muscarinic receptor binding in the bladder and other tissues. The measurement of drug-receptor binding after oral administration of these agents allows for clearer understanding of bladder selectivity by the integration of pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics under in vivo conditions. Their central nervous system (CNS) penetration potentials are also discussed in terms of the feasibility of impairments in memory and cognitive function in elderly patients with OAB. The clinical aspects of efficacy focus on improvements in the daytime urinary frequency, nocturia, bladder capacity, the frequency of urgency, severity of urgency, number of incontinence episodes, OAB symptom score, and quality of life (QOL) score by antimuscarinic agents in patients with OAB. The safety of and adverse events caused by treatments with antimuscarinic agents such as dry mouth, constipation, blurred vision, erythema, fatigue, increased sweating, urinary retention, and CNS adverse events are discussed. A dose-dependent relationship was observed with adverse events, because the risk ratio generally increased with elevations in the drug dose of antimuscarinic agents. Side effect profiles may be additive to or contraindicated by other medications.

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