Crosstalk between the immune system and neural pathways in interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome

Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome (IC/BPS) is a condition causing intense pelvic pain and urinary symptoms. While it is thought to affect millions of people and significantly impair quality of life, difficulty with diagnosis and a lack of reliably effective treatment options leave much progress to be made in managing this condition. We describe what is currently known about the immunological and neurological basis of this disease, focusing on the interactions between the immune and nervous system. Evidence for immune involvement in IC/BPS comes from its high co-occurrence with known autoimmune diseases, altered cytokine profiles, and immune cell infiltration in patients. These cytokines have the ability to cross-talk with the nervous system via NGF signaling, resulting in hyper-sensitization of pain receptors, causing them to release substance P and creating a positive feedback loop of neuroinflammation. While it seems that the crosstalk between the immune and nervous system in IC is understood, much of the information comes from studying other diseases or from animal models, and it remains to be confirmed in patients with the disease. Identifying biomarkers and confirming the mechanism of IC/BPS are ultimately important for selecting drug targets and for improving the lives of patients with this disease.

Discovery medicine. 2018 May [Epub]

Kevin Duh, Michael G Funaro, William DeGouveia, Sonia Bahlani, Dominic Pappas, Souhel Najjar, Inna Tabansky, Robert Moldwin, Joel N H Stern

Departments of Neurology, Surgery, Molecular Medicine, and Science Education, Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, Hempstead, NY 11549, USA., Department of Urology, Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, Hempstead, NY 11549, USA., Department of Neurology, Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health, New York, NY 10075, USA., Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10065, USA.

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