A new study has found why urinary tract infections (UTIs) have such a high recurrence rate in post-menopausal women. The study showed that several species of bacteria can work their way inside the human bladder's surface area, called the urothelium, in Reccurent Urinary Tract infection (RUTI) patients.
As per Mayo Clinic, a urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of the urinary system — kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract — the bladder and the urethra.
Kim Orth, Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, said:"Recurrent UTI (RUTI) reduces quality of life, places a significant burden on the health care system, and contributes to antimicrobial resistance".
Key elements that affect it are the bacterial diversity, antibiotic resistance, and the adaptive immune response of the patient in medication.
The research team included researchers from Molecular Biology, Pathology, Urology, and Biochemistry, who examined bacteria in bladder biopsies from 14 RUTI patients. Targeted fluorescent markers were used to study the human bladder tissue to look for bacteria.
Chances of UTI in postmenopausal women can be become greater due to pelvic organ prolapse. Diabetes, lack of estrogen, loss of Lactobacilli in the vaginal flora, and increased colonization of tissues surrounding the urethra by Escherichia coli (E. coli) also increase the possibility. Since post-menopausal women are more likely to face these issues, the risk of contracting UTI is higher among them.
Nicole De Nisco, an Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at UT Dallas, said, "The bacteria we observed are able to infiltrate deep into the bladder wall tissue, even past the urothelium layer." They also found that the adaptive immune response is quite active in human RUTIs.
UTI is among the most common types of bacterial infections in women, accounting for nearly 25 per cent of all infections. It is also the most cited cause for antibiotic prescriptions in older adults. In US, UTIs result in an estimated 7 million office visits. The treatment costs billions of dollars annually.
Preventive measures like yoghurt, unsweetened cranberry juice, prescribed probiotic supplements, increased vitamin C intake and good hygiene have been proven to be helpful. But it is recommended to visit the gynaecologist before any medication is taken.
This study was published in Journal of Molecular Biology.