Department of Pharmacology & Chemical Biology at the University of Pittsburgh
Anthony Kanai, PhD
Associate Professor, Medicine
A1224 Scaife Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15261

Phone: 412-624-1430

Fax: 412-648-7197


BS (Biochemistry), Duquesne University, 1980.
MS (Pharmacology), Duquesne University, 1983.
PhD (Physiology), University of Pittsburgh, 1992.

Research Areas
Pharmacology of Cell and Organ Systems
Photo of Anthony Kanai, PhD

Dr. Kanai is interested in autonomic regulation and cell-cell communication in the urinary bladder as it applies to incontinence and interstitial cystitis.  His laboratory was the first to study these using optical mapping, with voltage- and Ca2+-sensitive dyes, in intact rodent bladders, whole bladder sheets and cross-sections of the bladder wall.  This has allowed the visualization of spontaneous and evoked activity to determine the relationship of events occurring in the urothelium, lamina propria and detrusor.  It has also allowed the imaging of changes in neuropeptide release from afferent nerves and changes in electrical activity in the spinal cord and cerebral cortex (see figure below).  Optical maps are recorded along with pressure or tension and single-unit afferent activity to test and determine the sites-of-action of putative therapeutic agents such as botulinum toxin type-A, ß3-adrenergic receptor agonists and NK1/NK2 receptor antagonists.

The Kanai lab has also implemented a peptide dragging strategy for the subcellular targeting of drugs to prevent radiation cystitis.  Pelvic organ tumors in men and women accounted for 35% and 15%, respectively, of new tumors diagnosed in the United States in 2010.  While irradiation is a key therapy for treating these malignancies, the radiation dose is limited by the potential for developing radiation cystitis.  This novel targeting approach has resulted in the 2008 ASPET-Astellas award for translational pharmacology and a United States Patent.

Important Publications

Kanai A. Afferent mechanisms.  Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology 202:171-205, 2011

Kanai A, I Zabbarova, Y Ikeda, N Yoshimura, L Birder, A Hanna-Mitchell and W de Groat.  Sophisticated models and methods for studying neurogenic bladder dysfunction.  Neurology & Urodynamics 30:658-667, 2011.
Drake M, C Tannenbaum and A Kanai.  Potential insights into lower urinary tract function derived from CNS imaging.  Neurology and Urodynamics 26:13-19, 2010.

McCarthy C, I Zabbarova, P Brumovsky, J Roppolo, G Gebhart and A Kanai.  Spontaneous contractions evoke afferent nerve firing in detrusor overactivity. Journal of Urology 181:1459-1466, 2009.

Ikeda Y, L Birder, C Buffington, J Roppolo and A Kanai.  Mucosal muscarinic receptors enhance bladder activity in cats with feline interstitial cystitis.  Journal of Urology 181:1415-1422, 2009.

Ikeda Y and A Kanai.  Urotheliogenic modulation of intrinsic detrusor activity in spinal cord transected rat bladders:  The role of mucosal muscarinic receptors.  American Journal of Physiology 295:F454-F461, 2008.

Zabbarova I and A Kanai.  Mitochondrial targeting of radioprotectants Molecular Intervention 8:294-302, 2008.

Kanai A, J Roppolo, C Tai, L Birder, D Griffiths, Y Ikeda, I Zabbarova, W de Groat and C Fry. Origin of spontaneous activity in neonatal and adult rat bladders and its enhancement by stretch and muscarinic antagonists. American Journal of Physiology 292:F1065-F1072, 2007.

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