The urinary epithelium has been the subject of considerable interest and much research in recent years. What has radically changed in the last decade is the concept of what the bladder epithelium really is. It is currently no longer considered just a simple barrier and a non-specific defence against infections, and it has been recognized as a specialized tissue regulating complex bladder functions and playing a fundamental and active role in the pathogenesis of cystitis. Researchers have been focussing on the receptors and mediators that are active in the sub-epithelial layer, with the hope that understanding the role of the urothelium defect will offer the opportunity for new therapeutic strategies. On the surface of the urothelial umbrella-cells there is a thick layer of glycoproteins and proteoglycans, which together are called Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). They constitute a hydrophilic mucosal coating and act as a barrier against solutes found in urine. In recent years they have received special attention because injury to Gags, due to different noxae, has been identified as the first step in the genesis of chronic inflammatory bladder diseases, such as recurrent urinary tract infections, chemical or radiation cystitis, interstitial cystitis and/or Bladder Pain Syndrome. Aim of this study is to define the importance of the urothelium starting from the anatomy and physiology of the bladder wall. Furthermore, we will underline the role of glycosaminoglycans, focusing both on their pathophysiological role in the principal bladder diseases and on the therapeutic aspects from the clinical point of view.
ASJC Scopus subject areas