Different organization of collagen fibrils in stress-incontinent women of fertile age

Karolinska Institutet, Division of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Danderyd Hospital, Sweden.
Acta Obstetricia Et Gynecologica Scandinavica (Impact Factor: 1.99). 02/1998; 77(1):87-94. DOI: 10.1080/00016349808565819
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The objective was to test the hypothesis that stress urinary incontinence in women is correlated to changes in the paraurethral connective tissue ultrastructure and metabolism.
Transvaginal biopsies were obtained from the paraurethral connective tissue in women of fertile age with stress urinary incontinence and in matched continent controls. All the stress-incontinent women were characterized with urodynamic investigation. In the biopsies, collagen concentration, measured as hydroxyproline, and the degree of extraction by pepsin digestion were quantified. Proteoglycan composition and concentration were analyzed using Alcian blue precipitation, followed by electrophoretic separation and quantification. Using Northern blots mRNA levels for the collagens I and III, the small proteoglycans decorin and biglycan, and the large proteoglycan versican, were quantified. Collagen organization was examined with transmission electron microscopy and the diameters of collagen fibrils were analyzed with an interactive image analysis system (IBAS, Zeiss/Kontron).
The biochemical and morphological analyses exposed a significant difference in the paraurethral connective tissue between stress urinary incontinent women before menopause and comparable controls. The collagen concentration was almost 30% higher and the diameters of the collagen fibrils were 30% larger in the incontinent group of women. Also the organization of the collagen fibrils differed, with considerably higher cross-linking. A higher level of mRNA for collagen I and III in the incontinent group indicates that the differences can be related to an altered collagen metabolism. No change of proteoglycan amount or composition was observed, resulting in a significantly lower proteoglycan/collagen ratio in the incontinent group of women.
Stress urinary incontinence in fertile women is associated with a change in collagen metabolism resulting in an increased concentration of collagen and larger collagen fibrils. These alterations should result in a more rigid form of extracellular matrix, suggesting a connective tissue with impaired mechanical function.

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