Bladder epithelium is abnormal in patients with neurogenic bladder due to myelomeningocele

Spinal Cord. 2004 Mar;42(3):163-8. doi: 10.1038/


Objective: To describe the urothelium of the neurogenic bladder in patients with myelomeningocele on clean intermittent catheterization.

Setting: Outpatient practice.

Methods: Samples of bladder wall obtained from two groups of patients were examined for urothelium. The first group included 12 children and young adults with myelomeningocele and neurogenic bladder on intermittent catheterization for bladder emptying. The second group included eight children with vesicoureteral reflux and non-neurogenic bladder. Nine patients from the first group and four patients from the second group had urothelium. A contiguous section of each of the 13 samples with urothelium was stained for uroplakin expression, a marker of superficial bladder urothelium by immunohistochemistry.

Results: Samples from children with reflux revealed normal bladder epithelium and a uniform layer of umbrella cells (95% CI: 0-60%). In contrast, the epithelium from all patients with myelomeningocele was abnormal (95% CI: 66-100%). Epithelium from five patients (four children, one adult) revealed chronic inflammation. Three patients (two children, one adult) had squamous metaplasia. The apical surface of the epithelium in all patients with chronic inflammation had some reactivity with anti-uroplakin antibody, but the cells staining positive for uroplakin were scattered along the lumenal surface of the epithelium. The apical surface of patients with squamous metaplasia was negative for uroplakin.

Conclusion: The urothelium of the neurogenic bladder in young patients with myelomeningocele is abnormal, with loss of uroplakin expression and altered urothelial proliferation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / biosynthesis
  • Meningomyelocele / complications*
  • Middle Aged
  • Urinary Bladder, Neurogenic / etiology*
  • Urinary Bladder, Neurogenic / metabolism
  • Urinary Bladder, Neurogenic / pathology*
  • Uroplakin III
  • Uroplakin Ib
  • Urothelium / metabolism
  • Urothelium / pathology*


  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • UPK1B protein, human
  • Uroplakin III
  • Uroplakin Ib