Is electrolyte transfer across the urothelium important?: ICI-RS 2015

Karen D McCloskey, Bahareh Vahabi, Christopher H Fry

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


AIMS: This article summarizes discussion at the International Consultation on Incontinence Research Society (ICI-RS) 2015 meeting of urine modification in the urinary tract by the urothelium. It considers the literature and proposes pertinent questions that need to be addressed to understand this phenomenon within a physiological context.

METHODS: Following the ICI-RS meeting, publications in PubMed relating to urine modification in the renal pelvis, ureter, and bladder were reviewed.

RESULTS: Historically, the urothelium has been simply considered as a passive, impermeable barrier, preventing contact between urine and the underlying cells. In addition to the ability of the umbrella cells to modify the surface area of the urothelium during bladder filling, the urothelium may also be involved in modifying urine composition. Several lines of evidence support the hypothesis that electrolytes and water can be reabsorbed by the urothelium and that this may have physiological relevance. Firstly, urothelial cells express several types of aquaporins and ion channels; the membrane expression of which is modulated by the extracellular concentration of ions including Na(+) . Secondly, studies of urine composition in the renal pelvis and bladder demonstrate urine modification, indicating that water and/or electrolyte transport has occurred. Thirdly, hibernating mammals, with urothelial and bladder wall histology similar to non-hibernating mammals are known to produce and reabsorb urine daily, during long periods of hibernation.

CONCLUSIONS: The phenomenon of urine modification by the urothelium may be physiologically important during normal bladder filling. Research should be focused on investigating how this may change in conditions of urinary dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)863-868
Number of pages6
JournalNeurourology and Urodynamics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


  • Journal Article
  • Review


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