Urinary tract infection is one of the most common reasons for consult in the outpatient setting. Annually, about 4 million ambulatory-care visits were accounted for by urinary tract infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The most common causative agent of this UTI is Escherichia coli. The latter is known to part of the usual bacterial flora of the anal area since it is primarily thriving in the bowel. Males and females both can be infected with UTI. However, women are generally more susceptible to the infection since the female urethra is shorter, allowing easier access to the urinary bladder. Also, the location of the female urethra adds to its propensity to develop UTI because of its proximity to the anus and the vagina where bacterial population is dense.
In a recent biomedical engineering study presented during the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, a potential solution to the problematic recurrent urinary tract infection had been proposed.
Biomedical science research expert Thomas Hannan and his team have concluded in previous studies in animal models that although immune response was found to be weak in subjects with recurrent UTI, a hyperactive and overly strong immune defense system is likewise harmful to the system. They stated that the increase in vulnerability to infection may be caused by the hyper responsiveness of the immune system during initial infection.
The biomedical enginnering research team, led by Scott Hultgren, director of the Center for Women’s Infectious Disease Research at Washington University, concluded that a group of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), the COX-2 inhibitors, can actually be an effective complementary solution to treating UTI by targeting the hyperactive immune response and keeping the beneficial effects of the treatment intact.
The study was carried out by manipulating the immune defense system of the mice through controlling the neutrophil response such that it stays in just the right level, neither too much nor too low. Through this technique, they were able to eliminate the infection without making the mice more prone to recurrence.
The administration of COX-2 inhibitors to the animal models proved to be beneficial as shown by the decreased recurrence of infection in the subjects. The team observed that although the immune system still reacts to infection by sending neutrophils to the bladder, the cells do not damage the bladder lining. This is in comparison with those who did not receive COX-2 inhibitors. Damage to the protective lining of the bladder is one of the most important risks for developing recurrent UTI.
Director of the Center for Women’s Infectious Disease Research at Washington University and senior author Scott Hultgren, state that the team hopes to explore more the results of the study and to be able to hold a large clinical trial to verify their conclusion.