Objective To investigate the state of autophagy and its interactions with apoptosis and cell proliferation in patients who underwent successful early closure or delayed closure of exstrophy. They compared those outcomes with cell culture samples from patients with vesicoureteral reflux as control. Patients and Methods Primary cultures of bladder smooth muscle cells (SMCs) were established from patients with successful neonatal bladder closure (group 1, N = 5), delayed closure because of small bladder template (group 2, N = 5), and vesicoureteral reflux as control (group 3, N = 5). The myogenicity of the cultures was determined using anti-Desmin antibody. Immunostainings for LC3 to assess autophagy and Ki67 to assess cell proliferation were applied. Apoptosis was assessed by the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP digoxigenin nick-end labeling assay. Results Autophagy marker (LC3) expression was significantly higher in the delayed closure group than in the other groups, whereas no significant difference was noted between the neonatal closure and the control groups. Apoptotic indices of the SMCs were remarkably higher in SMC cultures from the delayed closures than in the neonatal closure and the control groups. A significantly lower expression of proliferation marker (Ki67) in the delayed closure group compared with the control and the neonatal closure group was also of note. Conclusion Patients with small bladder template and delayed closure showed upregulated autophagic process and increased apoptotic indices while experiencing a dramatic decrease in the proliferation of their bladder SMCs. Finally, the concept of manipulating autophagy may lead to promising outcomes for patients with bladder exstrophy in the future.
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