Urinary Tract pp 207-231 | Cite as

Urothelial Signaling

  • Lori A. Birder
Part of the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology book series (HEP, volume 2011)


The urinary bladder “mucosa” or innermost portion of the bladder is composed of transitional epithelium, basement membrane, and the lamina propria. This chapter reviews the specialized anatomy of the bladder epithelium (urothelium) and speculates on possible communication mechanisms from urothelial cells to various cell types within the bladder wall. For example, beyond serving as a simple barrier, there is growing evidence that the urinary bladder urothelium exhibits specialized sensory properties and plays a key role in the detection and transmission of both physiological and nociceptive stimuli. Findings from a number of studies suggest that the urothelium exhibits both “sensor” (expressing receptors/ion channels capable of responding to thermal, mechanical, and chemical stimuli) and “transducer” (ability to release chemicals) properties. Thus, urothelial cells exhibit the ability to sense changes in their extracellular environment including the ability to respond to chemical, mechanical, and thermal stimuli that may communicate the state of the urothelial environment to the underlying nervous and muscular systems.


Barrier function Sensory web TRP channels Urothelium 



This work was supported by NIH grants (NIDDK R37 DK54824, R01 DK57284, and P50 DK64539).


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Medicine and PharmacologyUniversity of Pittsburgh School of MedicinePittsburghUSA

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