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Keywords:

  • afferent nerves;
  • arterioles;
  • interstitial cells;
  • receptors;
  • venules

Abstract

The bladder mucosa consists of the urothelium, basement membrane, and lamina propria (LP). Although the urothelium has been given much attention, it may be regarded as one part of a signaling system involving another equally important component of the bladder mucosa, namely, the LP. The LP lies between the basement membrane of the mucosa and the detrusor muscle and is composed of an extracellular matrix containing several types of cells, including fibroblasts, adipocytes, interstitial cells, and afferent and efferent nerve endings. In addition, the LP contains a rich vascular network, lymphatic vessels, elastic fibers, and smooth muscle fascicles (muscularis mucosae). The roles of the LP and its components in bladder function have not been definitively established, though it has been suggested to be the capacitance layer of the bladder, determining bladder compliance and enabling adaptive changes to increasing volumes. However, the bladder LP may also serve as a communication center, with an important integrative role in signal transduction to the central nervous system (nociception, mechanosensation). The LP may also, by means of its different components, make it possible for the urothelium to transmit information to other components of the bladder wall, contributing to activation of the detrusor muscle. In addition, the LP may serve as a source for production of factors influencing the growth of both the overlying urothelium and the underlying detrusor muscle. Neurourol. Urodynam. 33:9–16, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.