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Open Access Research article

Substance P induces localization of MIF/α1-inhibitor-3 complexes to umbrella cells via paracellular transit through the urothelium in the rat bladder

Pedro L Vera12* and Katherine L Meyer-Siegler12

Author Affiliations

1 The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, Research & Development, Bay Pines, FL, USA

2 University of South Florida, Department of Surgery, Tampa, FL, USA

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BMC Urology 2006, 6:24  doi:10.1186/1471-2490-6-24

Published: 18 September 2006



Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) is released into the intraluminal fluid during bladder inflammation in the rat complexed to α1-inhibitor-3 (A1-I3; a rodent proteinase inhibitor in the α-macroglobulin family). The location of A1-I3 in the bladder had not been investigated. Therefore, we examined the location of A1-I3 and MIF/A1-I3 complexes in the bladder and changes due to experimental inflammation.


Anesthetized male rats had bladders removed with no treatment (intact) or were injected with Substance P (SP; s.c.; saline vehicle). After one hour intraluminal fluid was removed, bladder was excised and MIF and A1-I3 levels were determined using ELISA and/or western-blotting. MIF co-immunoprecipitation determined MIF/A1-I3 complexes in the bladder. Bladder sections were immunostained for A1-I3 and MIF/A1-I3.


A1-I3 immunostaining was observed in interstitial spaces throughout the bladder (including submucosa) but not urothelium in intact and saline-treated rats. RT-PCR showed that the bladder does not synthesize A1-I3, therefore, A1-I3 in the interstitial space of the bladder must be plasma derived. In SP-treated rats, A1-I3 in the bladder increased and A1-I3 was observed traversing through the urothelium. Umbrella cells that do not show MIF and/or A1-I3 immunostaining in intact or saline-treated rats, showed co-localization of MIF and A1-I3 after SP-treatment. Western blotting demonstrated that in the bladder MIF formed non-covalent interactions and also binds covalently to A1-I3 to form high molecular weight MIF/A1-I3 complexes (170, 130 and 75-kDa, respectively, verified by co-immunoprecipitation). SP-induced inflammation selectively reduced 170-kDa MIF/A1-I3 in the bladder while increasing 170 and 130-kDa MIF/A1-I3 in the intraluminal fluid.


A1-I3 and MIF/A1-I3 complexes are resident in bladder interstitium. During SP-induced inflammation, MIF/A1-I3 complexes are released from the bladder into the lumen. Binding of MIF/A1-I3 complexes to urothelial cells during inflammation suggests these complexes participate in the inflammatory reaction through activation of receptors for MIF and/or for A1-I3.