The rise of antimicrobial resistance in uropathogens has complicated the management of urinary tract infections (UTIs), particularly in patients who are afflicted by recurrent episodes of UTIs. Antimicrobial-resistant (AR) uropathogens persistently colonizing individuals at asymptomatic time points have been implicated in the pathophysiology of UTIs. The dynamics of uropathogen persistence following the resolution of symptomatic disease are, however, mostly unclear. To further our understanding, we determined longitudinal AR uropathogen carriage and clonal persistence of uropathogenic Escherichia coli, Proteus mirabilis, and Klebsiella pneumoniae isolates in the intestinal and urinary tracts of patients affected by recurrent and nonrecurrent UTIs. Clonal tracking of isolates in consecutively collected urine and fecal specimens indicated repeated transmission of uropathogens between the urinary tract and their intestinal reservoir. Our results further implicate three independent routes of recurrence of UTIs: (i) following an intestinal bloom of uropathogenic bacteria and subsequent bladder colonization, (ii) reinfection of the urinary tract from an external source, and (iii) bacterial persistence within the urinary tract. Taken together, our observation of clonal persistence following UTIs and uropathogen transmission between the intestinal and urinary tracts warrants further investigations into the connection between the intestinal microbiome and recurrent UTIs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01977-19
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Clonal tracking
  • Comparative genomics
  • Recurrence
  • Urinary tract infection


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