The Journal of endocrinology

Corticotropin-releasing factor family peptide signaling in feline bladder urothelial cells.

PMID 24829219


Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) plays a central role in the orchestration of behavioral and neuroendocrine responses to stress. The family of CRF-related peptides (CRF and paralogs: urocortin (Ucn)-I, -II, and -III) and associated receptors (CRFR1 and CRFR2) are also expressed in peripheral tissues such as the skin and gastrointestinal tract. Local signaling may exert multiple effects of stress-induced exacerbation of many complex syndromes, including psoriasis and visceral hypersensitivity. Interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome (IC/PBS), a chronic visceral pain syndrome characterized by urinary frequency, urgency, and pelvic pain, is reported to be exacerbated by stress. Functional changes in the epithelial lining of the bladder, a vital blood-urine barrier called the urothelium, may play a role in IC/PBS. This study investigated the expression and functional activity of CRF-related peptides in the urothelium of normal cats and cats with feline interstitial cystitis (FIC), a chronic idiopathic cystitis exhibiting similarities to humans diagnosed with IC/PBS. Western blots analysis showed urothelial (UT) expression of CRFR1 and CRFR2. Enzyme immunoassay revealed release of endogenous ligands (CRF and Ucn) by UT cells in culture. Evidence of functional activation of CRFR1 and CRFR2 by receptor-selective agonists (CRF and UCN3 respectively) was shown by i) the measurement of ATP release using the luciferin-luciferase assay and ii) the use of membrane-impermeant fluorescent dyes (FM dyes) for fluorescence microscopy to assess membrane exocytotic responses in real time. Our findings show evidence of CRF-related peptide signaling in the urothelium. Differences in functional responses between FIC and normal UT indicate that this system is altered in IC/PBS.