Introduction: Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a potentially severe and debilitating condition of the bladder. Numerous factors have been implicated in its pathogenesis.
Materials and methods: A literature review was conducted on the following topics: urothelium, mucosal lining, interstitial cystitis, bladder, and glycosaminoglycans.
Results: A commonly proposed cause for IC is a defect or alteration in the bladder surface leading to increased permeability to noxious urinary solutes and ultimately to tissue inflammation and neurogenic upregulation. Support for this concept is drawn from studies of the structure, function, and composition of the bladder surface. The cause(s) of this alteration is not known, although recent research has implicated changes in the levels of growth factors and/or compounds that protect against irritants and potentially "toxic" factors. The etiology of IC is likely multifactorial.
Conclusions: Alterations of the bladder surface are observed in IC, and may play an important role in the etiology of this condition.