PURPOSE - To assess the role of cell-cell interactions in the development of bladder smooth muscle.
MATERIAL AND METHODS - Bladders from 14-day rat fetuses (prior to smooth muscle differentiation) were isolated and digested with trypsin to separate the mesenchyme and epithelium. Three types of specimens were prepared for grafting under the renal capsule of syngeneic adult hosts: a) intact bladder (BL) which had been isolated from fetuses of timed pregnant rats by surgical methods alone; b) bladder mesenchyme (BLM) alone (urothelium removed following trypsinization); and c) isolated BLM recombined with bladder urothelium (BLM + BLE). After 2 weeks of in vivo growth the grafts were assessed by immunocytochemical techniques for the expression of smooth muscle cells markers (actin, myosin, vinculin, laminin and desmin). The same experiments were repeated in vitro. In the final experiment, the induction of bladder smooth muscle was elicited in situ across species lines. Fourteen-day rat BLM was grafted onto the proximal ureter of an athymic nude mouse after ipsilateral nephrectomy.
RESULTS - Grafts of intact BL and BLM + BLE recombinants expressed smooth muscle differentiation. In contrast, grafts of BLM alone remained devoid of smooth muscle. This was also true for the in vitro studies in which, after 5 days of growth, BLM + BLE recombinants (n = 12) showed clear evidence of smooth muscle differentiation. In contrast, cultures of BLM alone (n = 12) exhibited poor growth without smooth muscle differentiation. In the final experiment testing the induction of smooth muscle across species, after 1 month in vivo growth the urothelium of the cut end of the ureter had invaded the grafted BLM. The BLM grafts (n = 3) had increased 30 times in size, and immunocytochemical staining showed clear expression of smooth muscle markers in the grafted BLM in proximity to the urothelium.
CONCLUSION - We have shown that the differentiation of smooth muscle in the rat bladder is dependent upon an inductive interaction with the epithelium.