Hyaluronic acid (HA) has received a lot of attention recently as a biomaterial with applications in wound healing, drug delivery, vascular repair and cell and/or gene delivery. Interstitial cystitis (IC) is characterised by an increase in the permeability of the bladder wall urothelium due to loss of the glycosaminoglycan (GAG) layer. The degradation of the urothelium leads to chronic pain and urinary dysfunction. The aetiology of the degradation of the GAG layer in this instance is currently unknown. At a clinical level, GAG replacement therapy using a HA solution is currently utilised as a treatment for IC. However, there is a significant lack of data on the mechanism of action of HA in IC. The current study investigates the mechanistic effect of clinically relevant HA treatment on an in vitro model of IC using urothelial cells, examining cytokine secretion, GAG secretion and trans-epithelial permeability. This study demonstrates that HA can significantly decrease induced cytokine secretion (4-5 fold increase), increase sulphated GAG production (2-fold increase) and without altering tight junction expression, decrease trans-epithelial permeability, suggesting that the HA pathway is a clinical target and potential treatment vector. (C) 2015 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.