Purpose of review: The purpose of this review is to summarize the current evidence for the genetic basis of stress urinary incontinence (SUI).
Recent findings: Based on epidemiologic data, there appears to be a genetic predisposition for the development of SUI. One thought is that there are abnormalities in expression of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins leading to alterations in the composition of the ECM. Several studies have identified candidate genes encoding ECM proteins as well as inducers/inhibitors of these proteins, which are thought to lead to the development of SUI. Also, there is increasing evidence to suggest expression of these candidate genes may be influenced by the presence or absence of estrogen and progesterone. Pelvic organ prolapse is closely related to SUI, and the genes thought to be involved in the development of pelvic organ prolapse may also be linked to the development of SUI.
Summary: There is increasing evidence to support a genetic basis for the development of SUI, but some of the evidence is contradictory. Several candidate genes have been identified and these may lead to alterations in the composition of the ECM, ultimately predisposing some women to develop SUI. Future studies are needed to identify other candidate genes that may be involved in SUI and to study the influence of estrogen and progesterone on ECM proteins thought to be involved in SUI. The identification of genes involved in the development of SUI could lead to new therapies for the treatment of SUI.