A recent discovery of scientists reveals an astonishing fact about your pee! They found that there is a gene that tells you whether it is time to urinate or not.
A study published in the journal Nature, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, found that there is a gene, which may help in two different types of senses when the bladder is already full, and that you already need to go to the toilet.
The gene is called PIEZO2. This gene contains instructions for making proteins, which are then activated whenever the cells are either squeezed or stretched. The researchers from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California underscored that patients who were born with a deficiency in the PIEZO2 genes, experience some trouble in sensing that their bladder is already full. The researchers noted that their experiments in mice suggest that the said gene plays dual roles in the process.
Kara Marshall, lead author of the study said that there are many reasons why the gene could possibly be important for the process of urination. In theory, she explained that it makes sense considering that the gene acts as a sensor for other sensory processes that occur internally in the body.
The researchers also shared that in 2015, NIH researchers found that there were individuals who had mutations in this kind of gene. It was observed that they could not feel some types of pain or even touch. They also could not readily sense their own body movements. One thing that was common among them was that they suffered from urination problems.
Going back to the patients' childhood, the researchers found that they would usually experience urinary tract infections (UTI). Mayo Clinic stated that the areas affected when a person has UTI would include the bladder, kidneys, ureters, and the urethra, although most of the time, the bladder and the urethra are the ones affected.
Most of the patients indicated that they can make it through the day without feeling the desire to urinate. Most of them urinate less than five to six times a day, which is considered normal frequency.
The researchers experimented on mice to see how the PIEZO2 gene plays a role in urination. The researchers used an imaging system to determine neural activities in mice. They found that the gene is active in only a few neurons, which are responsible for sending nerve signals from the bladder of the mouse to the brain. Whenever the bladder of the mouse is already filled, the cells would light up.
Nima Ghitani, one of the researchers and a postdoctoral fellow at NIH said that their research yield one of the very first clues that could help understand where the PIEZO2 works in the urinary tract. This could help in finding solutions to issues concerning the bladder.