Clonal, Self-Renewing and Differentiating Human and Porcine Urothelial Cells, a Novel Stem Cell Population
Although urothelial progenitor-like cells have been described in the human urinary tract, the existence of stem cells remains to be proven. Using a culture system that favors clonogenic epithelial cell growth, we evaluated and characterized clonal human urothelial cells. We isolated human urothelial cells that were clonogenic, capable of self-renewal and could develop into fully differentiated urothelium once re-implanted into the subcapsular space of nude mice. In addition to final urothelial cell differentiation, spontaneous formation of bladder-like microstructures was observed. By examining an epithelial stem cell signature marker, we found p63 to correlate with the self-renewal capacity of the isolated human urothelial clonal populations. Since a clinically relevant, long-term model for functional reconstitution of human cells does not exist, we sought to establish a culture method for porcine urothelial cells in a clinically relevant porcine model. We isolated cells from porcine ureter, urethra and bladder that were clonogenic and capable of self-renewal and differentiation into fully mature urothelium. In conclusion, we could isolate human and porcine cell populations, behaving as urothelial stem cells and showing clonogenicity, self-renewal and, once re-implanted, morphological differentiation.