Urothelial cell

Transitional epithelium of the urinary bladder. Note the rounded surface of the apical cells -- a distinguishing characteristic of this type of epithelium.
Transverse section of ureter.

The urothelium or uroepithelium is the epithelium that lines much of the urinary tract. It is a layer of tissue that lines the renal pelvis, the ureters, the bladder, and parts of the urethra.[1]

Structure and function

Urothelial tissue is highly specific to the urinary tract, and has high elasticity and trans-epithelial electrical resistance.[1]

Urothelium consists of approximately 3-5 cell layers, accompanied by a thick layer of protective glycoprotein plaques at its luminal (apical) surface, and is classified as transitional epithelium.


Epithelia are sites of specific diseases.

  • Cancers that originate in epithelial cells are termed carcinomas, and they are characterized as having lost the mature, differentiated morphology and molecular patterns of the normal tissue. Infectious diseases also afflict epithelia where diverse microbes (viruses, bacteria, fungi) have surface structures that bind specific features of particular epithelial cells (e.g., influenza virus binds respiratory epithelium). Genetic defects can also inhibit normal epithelial integrity, such as defects in intercellular adhesion molecules that result in blistering diseases.
  • The second most common infectious disease is urinary tract infection (UTI). UTIs afflict approximately half of all women during their lifetime, and about 25% of these women will suffer recurrent UTIs. The majority of these infections are due to uropathogenic Escherichia coli bacteria (commonly known as E. coli). However, UTIs can also develop in healthcare settings and such infections are caused by a greater frequency of non-E. coli bacteria.
  • One unusual condition which affects the urothelium is interstitial cystitis (IC), a condition with symptoms similar to UTI (urinary frequency, urinary urgency, pressure and/or pain). Urine culture, however, is negative. During hydrodistention of the bladder, small petechial hemorrhages (aka glomerulations) are frequently found throughout the bladder. Larger "Hunner's Ulcers", known for their characteristic waterfall bleeding effect, represent larger areas of bladder wall thinning and/or trauma. The cause of IC is currently unknown though some suggest that it could be genetic, the result of traumatic injury (aka chemical exposure), infection, autoimmune disease, etc. Researcher Susan Keay (University of Maryland) has found an unusual protein in the urine of IC patients which appears to interfere with healing, known as an Antiproliferative Factor. Research efforts into IC are focused on the urothelium, including newly discovered signaling molecules which suggest that the urothelium is far more than a barrier, as well as how the urothelium interacts with proximal nerves and smooth muscle.
  • Urothelium is susceptible to carcinoma. Because the bladder is in contact with urine for extended periods, chemicals that become concentrated in the urine can cause Bladder cancer. For example, cigarette smoking leads to the concentration of carcinogens in the urine and is a leading cause of bladder cancer. Occupational exposure to certain chemicals is also a risk factor for bladder cancer.

See also

  • PUNLMP - a pre-malignant lesion of the urothelium.




External links

  • www.urothelium.com is an online resource for information about Human Urothelium and the "Biomimetic Urothelium"
  • Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
  • eMedicine Dictionary
  • Histology at qmul.ac.uk
  • Diagram at umich.edu
  • Histology at wisc.edu

gl:Epitelio de transiciĆ³n

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.