Virulence Mechanisms of Common Uropathogens and Their Intracellular Localisation within Urothelial Cells

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A recurrent urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common debilitating condition whereby uropathogens are able to survive within the urinary tract. In this study, we aimed to determine if the common uropathogens Escherichia coli, Enterococcus faecalis, and Group B Streptococcus possessed virulence mechanisms that enable the invasion of urothelial cells. Urothelial cells were isolated from women with detrusor overactivity and recurrent UTIs; the intracellular localisation of the uropathogens was determined by confocal microscopy. Uropathogens were also isolated from women with acute UTIs and their intracellular localisation and virulence mechanisms were examined (yeast agglutination, biofilm formation, and haemolysis). Fluorescent staining and imaging of urothelial cells isolated from women with refractory detrusor overactivity and recurrent UTIs demonstrated that all three uropathogens were capable of intracellular colonisation. Similarly, the bacterial isolates from women with acute UTIs were also seen to intracellularly localise using an in vitro model. All Enterococcus and Streptococcus isolates possessed a haemolytic capacity and displayed a strong biofilm formation whilst yeast cell agglutination was unique to Escherichia coli. The expression of virulence mechanisms by these uropathogenic species was observed to correlate with successful urothelial cell invasion. Invasion into the bladder urothelium was seen to be a common characteristic of uropathogens, suggesting that bacterial reservoirs within the bladder contribute to the incidence of recurrent UTIs.

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