Although the mammalian urinary tract is generally held to be solely a transit and storage vehicle for urine made by the kidney, in vivo data suggest reabsorption of urea and other urine constituents across urinary tract epithelia. To determine whether urinary tract tissue concentrations are increased as a result of such reabsorption, we measured urea nitrogen and creatinine concentrations and determined whether urea transporter B (UT-B) was present in bladder, ureter, and other tissues from dogs and rats. Mean urea nitrogen and creatinine concentrations in dogs and rats were three- to sevenfold higher in urinary tract tissues than in serum and were comparable to those in renal cortex. In water-restricted or water-loaded rats, urea nitrogen concentrations in bladder tissues fell inversely with the state of hydration, were proportional to urine urea nitrogen concentrations, and were greater than the corresponding serum urea nitrogen concentration in every animal. Immunoblots of rat and dog urinary tract tissues demonstrated the presence of UT-B in homogenates of bladder and ureter, and immunocytochemical analysis localized UT-B to epithelial cell membranes. These findings are consistent with the notion that urea and creatinine are continuously reabsorbed from the urine across the urothelium, urea in part via UT-B, and that urine is thus altered in its passage through the urinary tract. Urea reabsorption across urinary tract epithelia may be important during conditions requiring nitrogen conservation and may contribute to pathophysiological states characterized by high blood urea nitrogen, such as prerenal azotemia and obstructive uropathy.
- Urothelial transport
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