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Can Urol Assoc J. 2013 May-Jun;7(5-6):E311-6. doi: 10.5489/cuaj.11293. Epub 2013 May 13.

Immunohistochemical and electron microscopic examination of Cajal cells in ureteropelvic junction obstruction.

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  • 1Cukurova University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Urology, Adana, Turkey;
  • 2Cukurova University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Pathology, Adana, Turkey;
  • 3Cukurova University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Histology and Embryology, Adana, Turkey;
  • 4Cukurova University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Biostatistics, Adana, Turkey.



We examine the ultrastructural configurations of Cajal cells by electron microscopy, as well as the quantitative changes occurring in Cajal cells by light microscopy.


In total, 35 patients with ureteropelvic junction (UPJ) obstruction and 7 patients without obstruction were compared immunohistochemically with c-kit (CD117) to quantify the number of cells. On electron microscopic examination, 7 patients with UPJ obstruction and 3 patients without obstruction were compared to evaluate the changes which occurred in the ultrastructural configuration of the Cajal cells.


On light microscopic examination, it was determined that the Cajal cells, which demonstrate c-kit (CD117) immunoreactive character, were located near the circular muscle layer and parallel to the muscle cells. The number of Cajal cells in the control group was significantly increased compared to the number of cells in patients with UPJ obstruction (p < 0.001). On electron microscopic examination, the number of interstitial cells was also higher in the control group. A decrease in the number of the caveolae in these cells was seen in the group with UPJ obstruction compared to the control group.


In UPJ obstruction, a decrease in the number of Cajal cells, as well as the changes in the morphologic structure of the Cajal cells, indicates that these cells have a role in the pacemaker system and are associated with ureteral peristalsis.

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