Urothelial progenitors in development and repair.

01 Aug 2022
Jackson AR, Narla ST, Bates CM, Becknell B

Urothelium is a specialized multilayer epithelium that lines the urinary tract from the proximal urethra to the kidney. In addition to proliferation and differentiation during development, urothelial injury postnatally triggers a robust regenerative capacity to restore the protective barrier between the urine and tissue. Mounting evidence supports the existence of dedicated progenitor cell populations that give rise to urothelium during development and in response to injury. Understanding the cellular and molecular basis for urothelial patterning and repair will inform tissue regeneration therapies designed to ameliorate a number of structural and functional defects of the urinary tract. Here, we review the current understanding of urothelial progenitors and the signaling pathways that govern urothelial development and repair. While most published studies have focused on bladder urothelium, we also discuss literature on upper tract urothelial progenitors. Furthermore, we discuss evidence supporting existence of context-specific progenitors. This knowledge is fundamental to the development of strategies to regenerate or engineer damaged or diseased urothelium.