Urinary tract infections (UTIs) afflict over 9 million women in America every year, often necessitating long-term prophylactic antibiotics. One risk factor for UTI is frequent sexual intercourse, which dramatically increases the risk of UTI. The mechanism behind this increased risk is unknown; however, bacteriuria increases immediately after sexual intercourse episodes, suggesting that physical manipulation introduces periurethral flora into the urinary tract. In this paper, we investigated whether superinfection (repeat introduction of bacteria) resulted in increased risk of severe UTI, manifesting as persistent bacteriuria, high titer bladder bacterial burdens and chronic inflammation, an outcome referred to as chronic cystitis. Chronic cystitis represents unchecked luminal bacterial replication and is defined histologically by urothelial hyperplasia and submucosal lymphoid aggregates, a histological pattern similar to that seen in humans suffering chronic UTI. C57BL/6J mice are resistant to chronic cystitis after a single infection; however, they developed persistent bacteriuria and chronic cystitis when superinfected 24 hours apart. Elevated levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), keratinocyte cytokine (KC/CXCL1), and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) in the serum of C57BL/6J mice prior to the second infection predicted the development of chronic cystitis. These same cytokines have been found to precede chronic cystitis in singly infected C3H/HeN mice. Furthermore, inoculating C3H/HeN mice twice within a six-hour period doubled the proportion of mice that developed chronic cystitis. Intracellular bacterial replication, regulated hemolysin (HlyA) expression, and caspase 1/11 activation were essential for this increase. Microarrays conducted at four weeks post inoculation in both mouse strains revealed upregulation of IL-1 and antimicrobial peptides during chronic cystitis. These data suggest a mechanism by which caspase-1/11 activation and IL-1 secretion could predispose certain women to recurrent UTI after frequent intercourse, a predisposition predictable by several serum biomarkers in two murine models.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1004599
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalPLoS pathogens
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


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