Morphology, phenotype and ultrastructure of fibroblastic cells from normal and neuropathic human detrusor: Absence of myofibroblast characteristics

Marcus J. Drake, Petter Hedlund, Karl Erik Andersson, Alison F. Brading, Iqbal Hussain, Clare Fowler, David N. Landon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Fibroblasts are functionally diverse and fibroblastic cells with smooth muscle-like characteristics (myofibroblasts) regulate smooth muscle activity in certain tissues. The presence of myofibroblasts has been reported in the bladder with important implications for normal function and detrusor overactivity. We assessed fibroblastic cell characteristics to discern features suggesting a myofibroblast phenotype in normal or neuropathic human detrusor. Materials and Methods: A total of 25 control samples were obtained from cadaveric organ donors or patients with a mean age of 42.3 years investigated for hematuria and compared with samples from 18 patients with a mean age of 37.4 years with neurogenic detrusor overactivity. Morphology, phenotypic expression of various markers and the ultrastructure of each fibroblastic cell visible in multiple sections from each specimen was evaluated by 2 independent assessors. Results: Fibroblastic cells were observed throughout the smooth muscle and connective tissue. They were located peripherally on muscle fascicles and had a polar stellate appearance with processes ramifying in interfascicular planes and muscle. They possessed vimentin-like immunoreactivity and weak c-kit-like immunoreactivity but not desmin or α-smooth muscle actin-like immunoreactivity. Ultrastructurally they showed dilated rough endoplasmic reticulum with a moderately electron dense amorphous content and prominent golgi complexes. Nuclei had clumped peripheral heterochromatin. There were extensive flattened processes that lacked basal laminae. There was no specific contact with nerve fibers or smooth muscle. Neuropathic bladder samples did not differ overtly from those of controls. Conclusions: The detrusor possesses an extensive network of fibroblastic cells and processes. No evidence of myofibroblast differentiation was discerned in normal or neuropathic detrusor, although a minority subpopulation or regional variability in cellular phenotype could not be excluded.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1573-1576
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2003


  • Bladder
  • Bladder, neuropathic
  • Fibroblasts
  • Muscle, smooth
  • Phenotype

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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