Specific gene expression patterns identified in women with stress incontinence

September 2, 2005

General patterns of genetic expression have been identified in postmenopausal women with stress urinary incontinence that are not present in postmenopausal women without the condition. This is the first step toward being able to identify patients most at risk for stress incontinence early on, with the eventual hope of helping to prevent the condition, said researchers from the University of Rochester (NY) Medical Center.

General patterns of genetic expression have been identified in postmenopausal women with stress urinary incontinence that are not present in postmenopausal women without the condition. This is the first step toward being able to identify patients most at risk for stress incontinence early on, with the eventual hope of helping to prevent the condition, said researchers from the University of Rochester (NY) Medical Center.

As part of a pilot feasibility study, investigators led by Gunhilde Buchsbaum, MD, associate professor of obstetrics/gynecology and urology, obtained punch biopsies from three postmenopausal women undergoing surgery for stress incontinence. They obtained similar biopsies from two control women who were also postmenopausal but had no symptoms of stress incontinence and were undergoing gynecologic surgery unrelated to continence or prolapse. Full-thickness biopsies were taken of the vaginal mucosa underlying the urethrovesical junction.

Using microarray analysis, 54,675 genes were interrogated. Among these, 1,788 were overexpressed in women with stress incontinence, compared with controls. Another 1,676 genes were underexpressed in women with stress incontinence, compared with controls.

"The clinical implications are probably a long way off in the future," co-author and presenter Erin Duecy, MD, an instructor at the University of Rochester, told Urology Times. "Right now, the important thing that people are trying to do is figure out why [stress incontinence] is happening, when this is happening, who this is happening to, if there are things we can do to prevent it, and if there are things we can be on the lookout for."

The investigators are continuing to conduct studies exploring the role of genes in the development of stress incontinence. The patterns uncovered in this trial will help direct them to which genes to explore more closely.