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Fibrosis of bladder tissue is characterized by an abnormal deposition of connective tissue within different layers of the bladder wall, resulting in a low volume, high pressure vesical which may ultimately contribute to renal scarring and failure. These bladders are functionally referred to as "non-compliant" and may result from different etiologies: neurogenic, which encompasses myelodysplasia and spinal cord injury, or non-neurogenic, owing to obstruction or radiation therapy. To examine the molecular mechanisms responsible for this fibrosis, we have analyzed a well-characterized pediatric patient population for alteration(s) in collagen types I and III regulation at the protein and nucleic acid levels.

Materials and Methods

Immunohistochemical localization of collagen subtypes (I, III, and IV) was carried out using type specific monoclonal antibodies. Total collagen was determined by hydroxyproline analysis, and subtype specific expression of collagenous proteins, following cyanogen bromide extraction procedures, was quantified by competitive ELISA. Total RNA was extracted by guanidinium/phenol/chloroform, and slot blot hybridization analyses with radiolabeled human cDNA probes were quantified by densitometry of resulting autoradiograms.


Connective tissue infiltration of detrusor smooth muscle bundles was specific for type III collagen. Protein analyses demonstrated: 1) an increase in total collagen, 2) a statistically significant increase in the type III: type I collagen ratio, and 3), an absolute increase in type III collagen protein in non-compliant bladder tissue. At the mRNA level, there was a coordinate increase in both collagen I and III steady-state mRNAs in non-neurogenic bladder tissue, whereas neurogenic bladder tissue was characterized by an increase in the type III: type I mRNA transcript ratio.


These data suggest that regulation of collagen synthesis in bladder fibrosis is complex and is characterized by both transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms, depending upon the etiology of the fibrosis.

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