Interstitial Cells in the Urinary Bladder-Localization and Function

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: This review summarizes the currently available literature on the localization and proposed functions of a novel group of cells in the urinary bladder known as interstitial cells or interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC).

Methods: On-line searches of "Pubmed" for bladder, c-Kit, ICC, interstitial cell and myofibroblast were performed to identify relevant studies for the review.

Results: The literature contains substantial data that several sub-populations of ICC are present in the wall of the mammalian urinary bladder. These are located in the lamina propria and within the detrusor with distinctive cell shapes and morphological arrangements. Bladder ICC are identified with transmission electron microscopy or by immunohistochemical labeling using antibodies to the Kit receptor which is an established ICC marker. Lamina propria-ICC form a loose network connected via Cx43 gap junctions and are associated with mucosal nerves. Detrusor ICC track the smooth muscle bundles and make frequent contacts with intramural nerves. Both groups of ICC exhibit spontaneous electrical and Ca2+-signalling and also respond to application of neurotransmitter substances including ATP and carbachol. There is emerging evidence that the expression of ICC is upregulated in pathophysiological conditions including the overactive bladder.

Conclusions: There is now a convincing body of evidence that specialized ICC are present in the urinary bladder making important associations with other cells that make up the bladder wall and possessing physiological properties consistent with a role of bladder activity modulation. Neurourol. Urodynam. 29: 82–87, 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-87
Number of pages6
JournalNeurourology and Urodynamics
Issue number1
Early online date18 Dec 2009
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Urology

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