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Urology


Cytokine Effects on Gap Junction Communication and Connexin Expression in Human Bladder Smooth Muscle Cells and Suburothelial Myofibroblasts
Published: Thursday, June 02, 2011
Author: Marco Heinrich et al.

by Marco Heinrich, Andreas Oberbach, Nadine Schlichting, Jens-Uwe Stolzenburg, Jochen Neuhaus

Background

The last decade identified cytokines as one group of major local cell signaling molecules related to bladder dysfunction like interstitial cystitis (IC) and overactive bladder syndrome (OAB). Gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC) is essential for the coordination of normal bladder function and has been found to be altered in bladder dysfunction. Connexin (Cx) 43 and Cx45 are the most important gap junction proteins in bladder smooth muscle cells (hBSMC) and suburothelial myofibroblasts (hsMF). Modulation of connexin expression by cytokines has been demonstrated in various tissues. Therefore, we investigate the effect of interleukin (IL) 4, IL6, IL10, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFa) and transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGFß1) on GJIC, and Cx43 and Cx45 expression in cultured human bladder smooth muscle cells (hBSMC) and human suburothelial myofibroblasts (hsMF).

Methodology/Principal Findings

HBSMC and hsMF cultures were set up from bladder tissue of patients undergoing cystectomy. In cytokine stimulated cultured hBSMC and hsMF GJIC was analyzed via Fluorescence Recovery after Photo-bleaching (FRAP). Cx43 and Cx45 expression was assessed by quantitative PCR and confocal immunofluorescence. Membrane protein fraction of Cx43 and Cx45 was quantified by Dot Blot. Upregulation of cell-cell-communication was found after IL6 stimulation in both cell types. In hBSMC IL4 and TGFß1 decreased both, GJIC and Cx43 protein expression, while TNFa did not alter communication in FRAP-experiments but increased Cx43 expression. GJ plaques size correlated with coupling efficacy measured, while Cx45 expression did not correlate with modulation of GJIC.

Conclusions/Significance

Our finding of specific cytokine effects on GJIC support the notion that cytokines play a pivotal role for pathophysiology of OAB and IC. Interestingly, the effects were independent from the classical definition of pro- and antiinflammatory cytokines. We conclude, that connexin regulation involves genomic and/or post-translational events, and that GJIC in hBSMC and hsMF depend of Cx43 rather than on Cx45.

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