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Logo of ajprenalPublished ArticleArchivesSubscriptionsSubmissionsContact UsAJP - Renal PhysiologyAmerican Physiological Society
Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. Dec 2009; 297(6): F1477–F1501.
Published online Jul 8, 2009. doi:  10.1152/ajprenal.00327.2009
PMCID: PMC2801337

Cell biology and physiology of the uroepithelium


The uroepithelium sits at the interface between the urinary space and underlying tissues, where it forms a high-resistance barrier to ion, solute, and water flux, as well as pathogens. However, the uroepithelium is not simply a passive barrier; it can modulate the composition of the urine, and it functions as an integral part of a sensory web in which it receives, amplifies, and transmits information about its external milieu to the underlying nervous and muscular systems. This review examines our understanding of uroepithelial regeneration and how specializations of the outermost umbrella cell layer, including tight junctions, surface uroplakins, and dynamic apical membrane exocytosis/endocytosis, contribute to barrier function and how they are co-opted by uropathogenic bacteria to infect the uroepithelium. Furthermore, we discuss the presence and possible functions of aquaporins, urea transporters, and multiple ion channels in the uroepithelium. Finally, we describe potential mechanisms by which the uroepithelium can transmit information about the urinary space to the other tissues in the bladder proper.

Keywords: uroplakins, exocytosis, endocytosis, tight junctions, stretch, urothelium

Articles from American Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology are provided here courtesy of American Physiological Society

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