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The bladder is a complex organ that is highly adaptive to its mechanical environment. The umbrella cells in the bladder uroepithelium are of particular interest: these cells actively change their surface area through exo- and endocytosis of cytoplasmic vesicles, and likely form a critical component in the mechanosensing process that communicates the sense of 'fullness' to the nervous system. In this paper we develop a first mechanical model for vesicle trafficking in umbrella cells in response to membrane tension during bladder filling. Recent experiments conducted on a disc of uroepithelial tissue motivate our model development. These experiments subject bladder tissue to fixed pressure differences and exhibit counterintuitive area changes. Through analysis of the mathematical model and comparison with experimental data in this setup, we gain an intuitive understanding of the biophysical processes involved and calibrate the vesicle trafficking rate parameters in our model. We then adapt the model to simulate in vivo bladder filling and investigate the potential effect of abnormalities in the vesicle trafficking machinery on bladder pathologies.


Journal article


Journal of theoretical biology

Publication Date





115 - 132


Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. Electronic address: