A recent study conducted by a group of German scientists revealed the presence of a previously unknown cell in the urethra of mice. These chemosensory cholinergic brush cells are in close contact to sensory neurons that express cholinergic receptors.
The authors suggest that in analogy to brush cells of the respiratory tract, the urethral brush cells may also serve as sentinels being able to detecting hazardous substances and preventing their further retrograde ingression.
The results of this investigation will be presented at the upcoming 28th Annual EAU Congress which will kick off this Friday in Milan. The study won 2nd Prize for Best Abstract in Non-Oncology.
"Urinary tract infections rate among the most common indispositions among out- as well as in-patients and are chiefly triggered by bacteria entering the body through the urethra. We here discovered a previously not recognised cell which surveils this portal of entry," commented the presenting author of the study, Ms. Katharina Filipski of the Anatomy and Cell Biology Department at Justus-Liebig-University Giessen in Germany.
"A further exploration of this cell population will provide insight into cellular interaction and defensive measures against pathogens."
According to the authors, cholinergic chemoceptive cells might play an essential role in detecting and defending microorganisms invading the body through the urethra. The maintenance and support of their protective function could fortify the immune barrier and prevent urinary tract infections by initiating avoiding reflexes as micturition.