INTRODUCTION: To investigate whether interstitial cells (ICs) are present in the adult mouse bladder, and what transmitters characterize adjacent nerve fibres, as ICs in human and guinea-pig bladder lie close to nerve fibres but transmitters present in these nerves have not yet been reported. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Sections of the bladder wall from 12 adult male mice (six each, aged 3-4 or 18-24 months) were incubated in carboxygenated Krebs' solution containing isobutyl-methyl-xanthene (1 mm), followed by the nitric oxide (NO) donor diethylamino-NONOate; control tissues remained in Krebs' solution. Samples were fixed in 4% paraformaldehyde and processed for immunofluorescence histochemistry for cGMP, neuronal NO synthase (nNOS), vesicular acetylcholine transferase (VAChT), calcitonin gene-related polypeptide (CGRP) and protein gene product (PGP) 9.5. ICs were identified as non-neuronal cells of appropriate morphology manifesting an increase in cGMP after exposure to the NO donor. RESULTS: ICs were apparent in the outer muscle, but not the inner muscle or suburothelial region. nNOS- and CGRP-immunoreactive fibres were close to and alongside IC processes. In contrast, nerve fibres containing VAChT were only occasionally found close to ICs and rarely running alongside them. ICs showed no immunoreactivity to c-kit. There was no overt difference in IC cell distribution between young and aged adult specimens. Older mice showed patchy denervation of the detrusor, but ICs were not specifically affected. CONCLUSIONS: ICs are confined to the outer part of the bladder wall in the mouse and may receive peptidergic and nitrergic innervation, which might serve to modulate their putative functional role. Alterations in the overall IC population do not appear to underlie ageing-related changes in lower urinary tract function.
- Lower urinary tract function
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