Interstitial cystitis (IC), a chronic bladder disease with an increasing incidence, is diagnosed using subjective symptoms in combination with cystoscopic and histological evidence. By cystoscopic examination, IC can be classified into an ulcerative and a non-ulcerative subtype. To better understand this debilitating disease on a molecular level, a comparative gene expression profile of bladder biopsies from patients with ulcerative IC and control patients has been performed.
Gene expression profiles from bladder biopsies of five patients with ulcerative IC and six control patients were generated using Affymetrix GeneChip expression arrays (Affymetrix – GeneChip® Human Genome U133 Plus 2.0). More than 31,000 of > 54,000 tested probe sets were present (detection p-value < 0.05). The difference between the two groups was significant for over 3,500 signals (t-test p-value < 0.01), and approximately 2,000 of the signals (corresponding to approximately 1,000 genes) showed an IC-to-healthy expression ratio greater than two. The IC pattern had similarities to patterns from immune system, lymphatic, and autoimmune diseases. The dominant biological processes were the immune and inflammatory responses. Many of the up-regulated genes were expressed in leukocytes, suggesting that leukocyte invasion into the bladder wall is a dominant feature of ulcerative IC. Histopathological data supported these findings.
GeneChip expression arrays present a global picture of ulcerative IC and provide us with a series of marker genes characteristic for this subtype of the disease. Evaluation of biopsies from other bladder patients with similar symptoms (e.g. patients with non-ulcerative IC) will further indicate whether the data presented here will be valuable for the diagnosis of IC.