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Keratin Expression Profiling of Transitional Epithelium in the Painful Bladder Syndrome/Interstitial Cystitis

Pilar Laguna MD, PhD, Frank Smedts MD, PhD, Jörgen Nordling MD, PhD, Thomas Horn MD, PhD, Kirsten Bouchelouche MD, Anton Hopman PhD, Jean de la Rosette MD, PhD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/W342BWMDMDDBCTVH 105-110 First published online: 1 January 2006


Painful bladder syndrome/interstitial cystitis (PBS/IC) is a severely debilitating condition. Its cause is poorly understood; therapy is symptomatic and often unsuccessful. To study urothelial involvement, we characterized the keratin phenotype of bladder urothelium in 18 patients with PBS/IC using a panel of 11 keratin antibodies recognizing simple keratins found in columnar epithelia (keratins 7, 8, 18, and 20) and keratins associated with basal cell compartments of squamous epithelia (keratins 5, 13, 14, and 17). We also tested 2 antibodies recognizing more than 1 keratin also directed against basal cell compartments of squamous epithelia (D5/16 B4 and 34βE12).

Bladder urothelium in PBS/IC showed distinct differences in the profiles of keratins 7, 8, 14, 17, 18, and 20 compared with literature reports for normal bladder urothelium. These were characterized by a shift from the normal bladder urothelial keratin phenotype to a more squamous keratin profile, despite the lack of morphologic evidence of squamous epithelial differentiation and a loss of compartmentalization of keratin expression. The severity of these changes varied between biopsy specimens. Whether these changes are primary or secondary to another underlying condition remains to be determined.

Key Words:
  • Cytokeratins
  • Bladder
  • Intermediate filaments
  • Pelvic pain syndrome