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Bitter triggers acetylcholine release from polymodal urethral chemosensory cells and bladder reflexes

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Mike Althaus


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Chemosensory cells in the mucosal surface of the respiratory tract ("brush cells") use the canonical taste transduction cascade to detect potentially hazardous content and trigger local protective and aversive respiratory reflexes on stimulation. So far, the urogenital tract has been considered to lack this cell type. Here we report the presence of a previously unidentified cholinergic, polymodal chemosensory cell in the mammalian urethra, the potential portal of entry for bacteria and harmful substances into the urogenital system, but not in further centrally located parts of the urinary tract, such as the bladder, ureter, and renal pelvis. Urethral brush cells express bitter and umami taste receptors and downstream components of the taste transduction cascade; respond to stimulation with bitter (denatonium), umami (monosodium glutamate), and uropathogenic Escherichia coli; and release acetylcholine to communicate with other cells. They are approached by sensory nerve fibers expressing nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, and intraurethral application of denatonium reflexively increases activity of the bladder detrusor muscle in anesthetized rats. We propose a concept of urinary bladder control involving a previously unidentified cholinergic chemosensory cell monitoring the chemical composition of the urethral luminal microenvironment for potential hazardous content.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Deckmann K, Filipski K, Krasteva-Christ G, Fronius M, Althaus M, Rafiq A, Papadakis T, Renno L, Jurastow I, Wessels L, Wolff M, Schütz B, Weihe E, Chubanov V, Gudermann T, Klein J, Bschleipfer T, Kummer W

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Year: 2014

Volume: 111

Issue: 22

Pages: 8287-8292

Print publication date: 03/06/2014

Online publication date: 19/05/2014

Acceptance date: 22/04/2014

ISSN (print): 0027-8424

ISSN (electronic): 1091-6490

Publisher: National Academy of Sciences


DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1402436111

PubMed id: 24843119


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