Urinary tract biomaterials
Reviews of infectious diseases
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Bacterial adherence to the uroepithelium is recognized as an important mechanism in the initiation and pathogenesis of urinary tract infections (UTI). The uropathogens originate predominantly in the intestinal tract and initially colonize the periurethral region and ascend into the bladder, resulting in symptomatic or asymptomatic bacteriuria. Thereafter, depending on host factors and bacterial virulence factors, the organisms may further ascend and give rise to pyelonephritis. Uropathogens are selected by the presence of virulence characteristics that enable them to resist the normally efficient host defense mechanisms. Considerable progress has been made in identifying bacterial adhesins and in demonstrating bacterial receptor sites on uroepithelial surfaces. Recent studies have identified natural anti-adherence mechanisms in humans as well as possible increased susceptibility to UTI when these mechanisms are defective and when receptor density on uroepithelial cells is altered. Knowledge of bacterial adherence mechanisms may permit alternative methods of prevention and management of urinary infection, including the use of subinhibitory concentrations of antibiotics, vaccine development, nonimmune inhibition of bacterial adhesins and receptor sites, and the use of autochthonous flora, such as lactobacilli, to exclude uropathogens from colonizing the urinary tract.