Urine: Waste product or biologically active tissue?

Historically, urine has been viewed primarily as a waste product with little biological role in the overall health of an individual. Increasingly, data suggest that urine plays a role in human health beyond waste excretion. For example, urine might act as an irritant and contribute to symptoms through interaction with-and potential compromise of-the urothelium.

To explore the concept that urine may be a vehicle for agents with potential or occult bioactivity and to discuss existing evidence and novel research questions that may yield insight into such a role, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease invited experts in the fields of comparative evolutionary physiology, basic science, nephrology, urology, pediatrics, metabolomics, and proteomics (among others) to a Urinology Think Tank meeting on February 9, 2015.

This report reflects ideas that evolved from this meeting and current literature, including the concept of urine quality, the biological, chemical, and physical characteristics of urine, including the microbiota, cells, exosomes, pH, metabolites, proteins, and specific gravity (among others). Additionally, the manuscript presents speculative, and hopefully testable, ideas about the functional roles of urine constituents in health and disease.

Moving forward, there are several questions that need further understanding and pursuit. There were suggestions to consider actively using various animal models and their biological specimens to elaborate on basic mechanistic information regarding human bladder dysfunction.

Neurourology and urodynamics. 2018 Feb 21 [Epub ahead of print]

Urinology Think Tank Writing Group