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Bagli Lab

Lab members

Dr. Bruno Leslie, Research Fellow (2008)

Dr. Leslie joined our lab as a part of his fellowship training in urology. He will be examining the mechanisms that govern the sometimes irreversible nature of obstructive bladder disease. While smooth muscle is considered highly changeable or "plastic", this plasticity is not always evident after surgical treatment of obstruction. In some cases and in some experimental models, removal of the obstruction caused by the bladder disease results in remediation of the hypertrophy or enlarging of the bladder wall, while in other cases the enlargement continues despite the removal of the obstruction. By examining the way that the genes express themselves in both reversible and irreversible obstruction, Dr. Leslie will examine the mechanisms governing irreversibility of smooth muscle cell de-differentiation.

Jeffrey Yu, fourth year thesis student (2007-present)

Jeffrey is examining the role of mTOR in the mitogenic response of bladder smooth muscle to damaged matrix. Ongoing proliferation of bladder smooth muscle to heat damaged matrix has been noted in our lab in previous work and this response appears to be inhibited by rapamycin, the specific inhibitor of mTOR.

Dr. Cornelia Toelg, Research Assistant/Post-doctoral Fellow (2006-present)

Dr. Tolg completed her doctoral research in the Netherlands on cancer research, with an interest in matrix biology. Presently she is studying the effects of hypoxia on bladder smooth muscle in combination with other stimuli. Other projects include isolation of stem cells from bladder and incorporation of stem cells into the developing bladder. Her major focus is on the effects of the microenvironment on cell differentiation in terms of cancer, wound repair and bladder strain injury models.

Karen Aitken, BSc, (PhD in progress)

Karen Aitken is working on the role of strain injury on kinase signaling leading to proliferation and de-differentiation of bladder smooth muscle cells. Aitken has examined how strain and denatured matrix activates three signaling pathways, ERK1/2, JAK2/STAT3 and mTOR in bladder smooth muscle cells.

Publications while in our lab:
Sabha N, Aitken K, Lorenzo AJ, Szybowska M, Jairath A, Bagli DJ. (2006) Matrix metalloproteinase-7 and epidermal growth factor receptor mediate hypoxia-induced extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 mitogen-activated protein kinase activation and subsequent proliferation in bladder smooth muscle cells. In Vitro Cell Dev Biol Anim. 42(5): p. 124-33.

Aitken KJ, Block G, Lorenzo A, Herz D, Sabha N, Dessouki O, Fung F, Szybowska M, Craig L, Bagli DJ. (2006) Mechanotransduction of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 mitogen-activated protein kinase activity in smooth muscle is dependent on the extracellular matrix and regulated by matrix metalloproteinases. Am J Pathol. 169(2): p. 459-70.

Halachmi S, Aitken KJ, Szybowska M, Sabha N, Dessouki S, Lorenzo A, Tse D, Bagli DJ. (2006) Role of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) in stretch injury to bladder smooth muscle cells. Cell Tissue Res. 326(1): p. 149-58.

Hafez AT, Afshar K, Bagli DJ, Bahoric A, Aitken K, Smith CR, Khoury AE. (2005) Aerosol transfer of bladder urothelial and smooth muscle cells onto demucosalized colonic segments for porcine bladder augmentation in vivo: a 6-week experimental study. J Urol. 174(4 Pt 2):1663-7; discussion 1667-8.

Herz DB, Aitken K, Bagli DJ. (2003) Collagen directly stimulates bladder smooth muscle cell growth in vitro: regulation by extracellular regulated mitogen activated protein kinase. J Urol. 170(5): 2072-6.

Hafez AT, Bagli DJ, Bahoric A, Aitken K, Smith CR, Herz D, Khoury AE. (2003) Aerosol transfer of bladder urothelial and smooth muscle cells onto demucosalized colonic segments: a pilot study. J Urol. 169(6): 2316-9; discussion 2320.

Upadhyay J, Aitken KJ, Damdar C, Bolduc S, Bagli DJ. (2003) Integrins expressed with bladder extracellular matrix after stretch injury in vivo mediate bladder smooth muscle cell growth in vitro. J Urol. 169(2): 750-5.

Capolicchio, G, Aitken  KJ, Gu JX, Reddy P, Bagli DJ. (2001) Extracellular matrix gene responses in a novel ex vivo model of bladder stretch injury. J Urology 165:2235-40.


  • Bladder smooth muscle cell growth is mediated by mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR/FRAP1)
  • Physiologic stimulation of bladder smooth muscle cell growth is mediated by mammalian target of rapamycin