Identification of c-kit-positive cells in the mouse ureter: the interstitial cells of Cajal of the urinary tract

Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2003 May;284(5):F925-9. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00138.2002. Epub 2003 Jan 21.


The existence of a pacemaker system in the urinary tract capable of orchestrating the movement of filtrated urine from the ureteral pelvis to the distal ureter and lower urinary tract seems intuitive. The coordinated activity necessary for such movement or "peristalsis" would likely require an intricate network of cells with pacemaker-like activity, as is the case with the interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC) of the gut. We investigated whether these putative pacemaker cells of the urinary tract are antigenically similar to ICC of the gut by using immunofluorescence staining for c-kit, a cell-surface marker specific for ICC. Ureteral, urinary bladder, and urethral tissues were harvested from female mice of the WBB6F1 strain, and fixed sections were prepared and stained for c-kit. Cell networks composed of stellate-appearing, c-kit-positive, ICC-like cells were found in the lamina propria and at the interface of the inner longitudinal and outer circular muscle layers of the ureteral pelvis but not in the urinary bladder or urethra. Thus, like in the gut, c-kit-positive, ICC-like cells are present in the urinary tract but appear to be restricted to the proximal ureter of this murine species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / metabolism*
  • Ureter / cytology*
  • Ureter / physiology*


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit