Kit positive cells in the guinea pig bladder

J Urol. 2002 Aug;168(2):832-6.


Purpose: We describe the presence of interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) throughout the wall of the guinea pig bladder.

Materials and methods: Bladders obtained from male guinea pigs were prepared for immunohistochemical investigations using various primary antibodies, including the specific ICC marker c-kit (Gibco BRL, Grand Island, New York). Enzymatically dispersed cells with a branched morphology were identified as ICC using anti-c-kit. They were loaded with fluo-4acetoxymethyl (Molecular Probes, Eugene, Oregon) and studied using confocal laser scanning microscopy.

Results: Anti-c-kit labeling demonstrated that ICC were oriented in parallel with the smooth muscle bundles that run diagonally throughout the bladder. Double labeling with anti-smooth muscle myosin (Sigma Chemical Co., St. Louis, Missouri) revealed that ICC were located on the boundary of smooth muscle bundles. When anti-c-kit was used in combination with the general neuronal antibody protein gene product 9.5 (Ultraclone Ltd., Isle of Wight, United Kingdom) or anti-neuronal nitric oxide synthase, it was noted that there was a close association between nerves and ICC. Enzymatic dissociation of cells from tissue pieces yielded a heterogeneous population of cells containing typical spindle-shaped smooth muscle cells and branched cells resembling ICC from other preparations. The latter could be identified immunohistochemically as ICC using anti-c-kit, whereas the majority of spindle-shaped cells were not Kit positive. Branched cells responded to the application of carbachol by firing Ca2+ waves and they were often spontaneously active.

Conclusions: ICC are located on the boundary of smooth muscle bundles in the guinea pig bladder. They fire Ca2+ waves in response to cholinergic stimulation and can be spontaneously active, suggesting that they could act as pacemakers or intermediaries in the transmission of nerve signals to smooth muscle cells.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium Channels / physiology
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Male
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Smooth / cytology
  • Oncogene Proteins / analysis*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Urinary Bladder / cytology*


  • Calcium Channels
  • Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit
  • Calcium