Interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome is a chronic, potentially debilitating condition characterized by pain perceived to be related to the bladder in conjunction with lower urinary tract symptoms, and includes a wide variety of clinical phenotypes with diverse etiologies. Currently the only clinically relevant proven phenotype of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome is the Hunner lesion. Whether the presence of Hunner lesions is a hallmark of a distinct disease cohort or a potentially transient feature of non-Hunner lesion phenotype has been debated but remains controversial. There are few documented examples of a patient converting between the two forms. Growing clinical and basic evidence supports eliminating the Hunner lesion phenotype from the bladder pain syndrome umbrella and considering it a distinct disease. The Hunner lesion phenotype is characterized by distinct bladder histology, including subepithelial chronic inflammatory changes and epithelial denudation, and specific clinical characteristics (older onset age, severe bladder-centric symptoms, reduced bladder capacity, and favorable response to the lesion-targeted therapies). To define the Hunner lesion phenotype, it is necessary to develop an atlas of standardized images of cystoscopic (and, if possible, pathological) appearances of Hunner lesions. A true potential and clinically relevant phenotype of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome may be patients with non-bladder-centric symptoms, characterized by the affect dysregulation and somatic symptoms, and a greater bladder capacity in absence of Hunner lesions. In the present workshop, we concluded that the Hunner lesion is a valid phenotype and can reasonably be considered a disease in its own right. Assessment of bladder capacity and the extent of symptoms (bladder beyond or bladder centric) may help phenotyping of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome. Proper phenotyping is essential for the diagnosis and treatment of interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome, and for facilitating research.

International journal of urology : official journal of the Japanese Urological Association. 2019 Jun [Epub]

Yoshiyuki Akiyama, Philip Hanno

Department of Urology, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan., Urology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA.