Causes of Interstitial Cystitis
It is currently not known for certain why interstitial cystitis occurs. Among the theories is that the condition may result from an autoimmune response following a bladder infection; however, it is important to understand that interstitial cystitis is not the same as a bladder infection. Other possible interstitial cystitis causes include a substance in urine that irritates the bladder or genetic factors.
No one knows the exact cause or causes of interstitial cystitis (IC). Because the disorder varies so much in symptoms and severity, most researchers believe that it may actually be several diseases rather than just one.
Researchers are working to understand the interstitial cystitis cause and to find effective treatments. One possible cause involves a theory suggesting it may result from an autoimmune response following a bladder infection.
Another theory suggests that there are substances in urine that are irritating to people with interstitial cystitis. Researchers have isolated a substance found almost exclusively in the urine of people with the condition. They have named the substance antiproliferative factor, or APF, because it appears to block the normal growth of the cells that line the inside wall of the bladder. Researchers anticipate that learning more about APF will lead to a greater understanding of the causes of IC and to possible treatments.
Scientists conducting interstitial cystitis clinical studies are beginning to explore the possibility that heredity may play a part in some forms of the disease. In a few cases, interstitial cystitis has affected a mother and a daughter, or two sisters, but it does not commonly run in families.