Prostate cancer survivors with symptoms of radiation cystitis have elevated fibrotic and vascular proteins in urine
© 2020 Zwaans et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Radiation for pelvic cancers can result in severe bladder damage and radiation cystitis (RC), which is characterized by chronic inflammation, fibrosis, and vascular damage. RC development is poorly understood because bladder biopsies are difficult to obtain. The goal of this study is to gain understanding of molecular changes that drive radiation-induced cystitis in cancer survivors using urine samples from prostate cancer survivors with history of radiation therapy. 94 urine samples were collected from prostate cancer survivors with (n = 85) and without (n = 9) history of radiation therapy. 15 patients with radiation history were officially diagnosed with radiation cystitis. Levels of 47 different proteins were measured using Multiplex Luminex. Comparisons were made between non-irradiated and irradiated samples, and within irradiated samples based on radiation cystitis diagnosis, symptom scores or hematuria. Statistical analysis was performed using Welch’s t-test. In prostate cancer survivors with history of radiation therapy, elevated levels of PAI 1, TIMP1, TIMP2, HGF and VEGF-A were detected in patients that received a radiation cystitis diagnosis. These proteins were also increased in patients suffering from hematuria or high symptom scores. No inflammatory proteins were detected in the urine, except in patients with gross hematuria and end stage radiation cystitis. Active fibrosis and vascular distress is detectable in the urine through elevated levels of associated proteins. Inflammation is only detected in urine of patients with end-stage radiation cystitis disease. These results suggest that fibrosis and vascular damage drive the development of radiation cystitis and could lead to the development of more targeted treatments.