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Keywords:

  • afferents;
  • barrier function;
  • mucosa;
  • sensory function;
  • uroepithelium

Abstract

Traditionally, sensory signaling in the urinary bladder has been largely attributed to direct activation of bladder afferents. There is substantive evidence that sensory systems can be influenced by non-neuronal cells, such as the urothelium, which are able to respond to various types of stimuli that can include physiological, psychological and disease-related factors. The corresponding release of chemical mediators (through activation of a number of receptors/ion channels) can initiate signaling mechanisms between and within urothelial cells, as well as other cell types within the bladder wall including bladder nerves. However, the mechanisms underlying how various cell types in the bladder wall respond to normal filling and emptying, and are challenged by a variety of stressors (physical and chemical) are still not well understood. Alterations or defects in signaling mechanisms are likely to contribute to the pathophysiology of bladder disease with symptoms including urinary urgency, increased voiding frequency and pain. This review will discuss some of the components involved in control of lower urinary tract function, with an emphasis on the sensor and transducer roles of the urothelium.