Functional innervation of Guinea-pig bladder interstitial cells of cajal subtypes: neurogenic stimulation evokes in situ calcium transients

Susannah M. Gray, J. Graham McGeown, Gordon McMurray, Karen D. McCloskey

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Several populations of interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) exist in the bladder, associated with intramural nerves. Although ICC respond to exogenous agonists, there is currently no evidence of their functional innervation. The objective was to determine whether bladder ICC are functionally innervated. Guinea-pig bladder tissues, loaded with fluo-4AM were imaged with fluorescent microscopy and challenged with neurogenic electrical field stimulation (EFS). All subtypes of ICC and smooth muscle cells (SMC) displayed spontaneous Ca2+-oscillations. EFS (0.5Hz, 2Hz, 10Hz) evoked tetrodotoxin (1µM)-sensitive Ca2+-transients in lamina propria ICC (ICC-LP), detrusor ICC and perivascular ICC (PICC) associated with mucosal microvessels. EFS responses in ICC-LP were significantly reduced by atropine or suramin. SMC and vascular SMC (VSM) also responded to EFS. Spontaneous Ca2+-oscillations in individual ICC-LP within networks occurred asynchronously whereas EFS evoked coordinated Ca2+-transients in all ICC-LP within a field of view. Non-correlated Ca2+-oscillations in detrusor ICC and adjacent SMC pre-EFS, contrasted with simultaneous neurogenic Ca2+ transients evoked by EFS. Spontaneous Ca2+-oscillations in PICC were little affected by EFS, whereas large Ca2+-transients were evoked in pre-EFS quiescent PICC. EFS also increased the frequency of VSM Ca2+-oscillations. In conclusion, ICC-LP, detrusor ICC and PICC are functionally innervated. Interestingly, Ca2+-activity within ICC-LP networks and between detrusor ICC and their adjacent SMC were synchronous under neural control. VSM and PICC Ca2+-activity was regulated by bladder nerves. These novel findings demonstrate functional neural control of bladder ICC. Similar studies should now be carried out on neurogenic bladder to elucidate the contribution of impaired nerve-ICC communication to bladder pathophysiology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e53423
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 09 Jan 2013


  • Animals
  • Calcium
  • Calcium Signaling
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Interstitial Cells of Cajal
  • Male
  • Mucous Membrane
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle
  • Urinary Bladder

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