Immune mediators of chronic pelvic pain syndrome

Stephen F. Murphy, Anthony J. Schaeffer, Praveen Thumbikat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


The cause of chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS) has yet to be established. Since the late 1980s, cytokine, chemokine, and immunological classification studies using human samples have focused on identifying biomarkers for CPPS, but no diagnostically beneficial biomarkers have been identified, and these studies have done little to deepen our understanding of the mechanisms underlying chronic prostatic pain. Given the large number of men thought to be affected by this condition and the ineffective nature of current treatments, there is a pressing need to elucidate these mechanisms. Prostatitis types IIIa and IIIb are classified according to the presence of pain without concurrent presence of bacteria; however, it is becoming more evident that, although levels of bacteria are not directly associated with levels of pain, the presence of bacteria might act as the initiating factor that drives primary activation of mast-cell-mediated inflammation in the prostate. Mast cell activation is also known to suppress regulatory T cell (T reg) control of self-tolerance and also activate neural sensitization. This combination of established autoimmunity coupled with peripheral and central neural sensitization can result in the development of multiple symptoms, including pelvic pain and bladder irritation. Identifying these mechanisms as central mediators in CPPS offers new insight into the prospective treatment of the disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-269
Number of pages11
JournalNature Reviews Urology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology


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