Characterization of urine-derived stem cells obtained from upper urinary tract for use in cell-based urological tissue engineering

Tissue Eng Part A. 2011 Aug;17(15-16):2123-32. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEA.2010.0637.


Background: The goals of this study were to characterize urine-derived stem cells obtained from the upper urinary tract (uUSC), induce these cells to differentiate into urothelial and smooth muscle cells, and determine whether they could serve as a potential stem cell source for bladder tissue engineering.

Materials and methods: Urine samples were collected from five patients with normal upper urinary tracts during renal pyeloplasty. Cells were isolated from this urine and extensively expanded in vitro.

Results: The mean population doubling of uUSC was 46.5±7.7. The uUSC expressed surface markers associated with mesenchymal stem cells and pericytes. These cells could differentiate into smooth muscle-like cells that expressed smooth muscle-specific gene transcripts and proteins, including α-smooth muscle actin, desmin, and myosin, when exposed to TGF-β1 and PDGF-BB. In a collagen lattice assay, these myogenic-differentiated uUSC displayed contractile function that was similar to that seen in native smooth muscle cells. Urothelial-differentiated uUSC expressed urothelial-specific genes and proteins such as uroplakin-Ia and -III, cytokeratin (CK)-7, and CK-13.

Conclusions: uUSC possess expansion and differentiation (urothelial and myogenic) capabilities, and can potentially be used as an alternative cell source in bladder tissue engineering for patients needing cystoplasty.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Shape
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Tissue Engineering / methods*
  • Urinary Tract / cytology*
  • Urine / cytology*


  • Biomarkers