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Int Urogynecol J. 2013 Dec;24(12):2049-57. doi: 10.1007/s00192-013-2112-0. Epub 2013 May 14.

Local immune response in bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis ESSIC type 3C.

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IKBT, Institut für Klinische Biomedizinische Forschung Thurgau, Lauchefeld 31, 9548, Matzingen, Switzerland,



Bladder pain syndrome/interstitial cystitis (BPS/IC) is identified based on subjective symptoms which lead to heterogeneous patient populations. Previous studies using gene expression arrays for BPS/IC with Hunner's lesions [European Society for the Study of Interstitial Cystitis (ESSIC) type 3C], a subtype of the condition discernible by cystoscopy, have revealed characteristic immune responses and urothelial abnormalities. This current study aimed to further characterize this subtype using a gene expression panel. We hypothesized that B-cell activation with high levels of urinary antibody concentration would be found.


Cold-cup bladder biopsies, catheterized urine and blood were collected from 15 BPS/IC ESSIC type 3C patients, 11 non-inflammatory overactive bladder (OAB) patients and eight healthy controls. Gene expression in biopsies was quantified by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR), immunohistochemistry was performed on bladder tissue and urinary immunoglobulins G and A were quantified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Statistical analyses included the Kruskal-Wallis test for non-parametric data and post hoc tests identified differences between groups.


High expression of T- and B-cell markers (CTLA4, CD20, CD79A, IGH@), low expression of urothelial markers (KRT20, UPK1B, UPK3A), focal lymphoid aggregates in the submucosa and high immunoglobulin concentration in urine were found exclusively in BPS/IC ESSIC type 3C patients. Results for OAB were in intermediate ranges between the other two groups and UPK1B even reached significantly lower expression when compared to healthy controls.


BPS/IC ESSIC type 3C is characterized by a local adaptive immune response with elevated urinary antibody concentrations. Quantification of urinary immunoglobulin levels could be used for a non-invasive diagnosis of BPS/IC ESSIC type 3C.

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