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Cell Tissue Res. 2009 Mar;335(3):517-27. doi: 10.1007/s00441-008-0736-z. Epub 2009 Jan 14.

Ultrastructure of Cajal-like interstitial cells in the human detrusor.

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Department of Pathology, University Hospital Herlev, DK-2730 Herlev, Denmark.


The aim of this ultrastructural study was to examine the human detrusor for interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC)-like cells (ICC-L) by conventional transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and immuno-transmission electron microscopy (I-TEM) with antibodies directed towards CD117 and CD34. Two main types of interstitial cells were identified by TEM: ICC-L and fibroblast-like cells (FLC). ICC-L were bipolar with slender (0.04 microm) flattened dendritic-like processes, frequently forming a branching labyrinth network. Caveolae and short membrane-associated dense bands were present. Mitochondria, rough endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus were observed in the cell somata and cytoplasmic processes. Intermediate filaments were abundant but no thick filaments were found. ICC-L were interconnected by close appositions, gap junctions and peg-and-socket junctions (PSJ) but no specialised contacts to smooth muscle or nerves were apparent. FLC were characterised by abundant rough endoplasmic reticulum but no caveolae or membrane-associated dense bands were observed; gap junctions and PSJ were absent and intermediate filaments were rare. By I-TEM, CD34 gold immunolabelling was present in long cytoplasmic processes corresponding to ICC-L between muscle fascicles but CD117 gold immunolabelling was negative. Thus, ICC-like cells are present in the human detrusor. They are CD34-immunoreactive and have a myoid ultrastructure clearly distinguishable from fibroblast-like cells. ICC-L may be analogous to interstitial cells of Cajal in the gut.

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