May 22, 2019 | Updated: 05:48 PM EDT

Researchers Discovered Role of Bacteria in Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections

May 13, 2019 02:20 PM EDT

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Researchers Discovered Role of Bacteria in Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections
(Photo : University of Texas at Dallas)

A recent discovery by researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas and UT Southwestern Medical Center reveals that several species of bacteria inhabit in the bladder of postmenopausal women who experience recurrent urinary tract infections (RUTIs).

The scientists published the results of this study in the Journal of Molecular BiologyThey represent the first systematic analysis of biopsies from patients in this population. Part of what this discovery offer is a better understanding of the interaction between bacteria and host tissue which might lead to more effective treatment strategies.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are painful, irritating, and sometimes debilitating. The significant cause of the majority of UTIs is through the bacterium Escherichia coli which lives typically in human intestines but sometimes gets into the urinary tract where it is not welcome.

The infections occur in women and can be treated effectively with antibiotics. But for some postmenopausal women, UITs recur so frequently that they become a chronic condition that requires daily doses of increasingly powerful antibiotics as the infection-causing bacteria gradually become resistant to each new drug.

An assistant professor of biological sciences at UT Dallas and lead author of the study, Nicole De Nisco said that for older women, their infections could go on for tens of years. In the end, the last resort of a patient might be removing the bladder.

Researchers have done most of the epidemiological research on UTIs with women in their 20s and 30s, a much earlier age range than the typical onset of menopause.

De Nisco explained further that one of the reasons urinary tract infections have been overlooked is because they affect women, an understudied group in general when it comes to disease, and older women in particular who are even more understudied.

For them to examine the pathogenic mechanisms and immune responses related to recurring UTIs, De Nisco and her team analyzed urine and biopsies from 14 postmenopausal women who have undergone cystoscopy with fulguration at of trigonitis, a procedure aimed at treating antibiotic-resistant UTIs by removing inflamed bladder tissue.

Also found by the team in addition to the expected E. Coli is bacteria in urine samples included Klebsiella pneumonia and Enterococcus faecalis, while species in biopsied tissue included E. Coli, Staphylococcus horminis and Bacillus Firmus.

De Nisco stated that their discoveries confirm that bacteria do form communities within the bladder wall of RUTI patients which was not previously known. This research is a critical step toward a better understanding of the mechanisms of recurring urinary tract infection and inflammation in postmenopausal women.

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