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J Endourol. 2013 Feb;27(2):220-9. doi: 10.1089/end.2012.0252.

PI3K mediates stretch-induced COX-2 expression during urinary tract obstruction.

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Department of Urology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53705, USA.



Stretch-induced cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression occurs in urothelial cells during urinary tract obstruction (UTO). This increases COX-2-dependent prostanoid synthesis in stretched urothelial cells. These prostanoids then act on afferent neurons and smooth muscle cells in the ureter to amplify nociceptive and contractile responses, respectively. We previously used a unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO) mouse model and a primary human urothelial cell (HUC) stretch model to describe ureteral COX-2 expression during UTO. The current study was performed to determine whether phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-dependent signaling pathways are necessary for stretch-induced COX-2 expression in urothelial cells.


Adult male CD-1 mice were treated with 25% dimethyl sulfoxide/phosphate buffered saline or PI3K inhibitor LY294002 (3 mg/kg, 30 mg/kg) for 1 hour before performing UUO for up to 4 hours. Obstructed and contralateral mouse ureters were analyzed via immunohistochemistry or Western blotting to assess in vivo stretch-induced COX-2 expression. In addition, HUCs were cyclically stretched (5%-20% displacement, 12 cycles/min) on collagen I-coated stretch plates and assessed for COX-2 expression via Western blotting.


Histologic analyses of obstructed ureters show that urothelial cells stretch in response to external obstruction, COX-2 expression increases in the stretched urothelial cells, and no infiltrating immune cells were present under the conditions of the study. PI3K inhibitor LY294002 (30 mg/kg) attenuated in vivo stretch-induced COX-2 expression. LY294002 or RNA-interference also attenuated (HUC) stretch-induced COX-2 expression in vitro. Furthermore, the results also show that LY294002 inhibits stretch-induced protein kinase C (PKCζ) activation previously identified upstream of stretch-induced COX-2 expression in HUCs.


The results indicate that PI3K is a mediator of stretch-induced COX-2 expression in urothelial cells. Identifying molecules that couple urothelial cell stretch to COX-2 expression may provide targets of drug action for effective therapeutics for UTO.

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