BACTERIA have been found in the bladders of healthy women, dispelling the myth that normal urine is sterile, according to new research from Stritch School of Medicine (SSOM), Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, Illinois, USA.
“Clinicians previously equated the presence of bacteria in urine to infections. The discovery of bacteria in the urine of healthy females provides an opportunity to advance our understanding of bladder health and disease,” said Dr Alan Wolfe, lead author and Professor, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, SSOM. “Physicians and researchers must reassess their assumptions surrounding the cause of lower urinary tract disorders and consider new approaches to prevent and treat these debilitating health issues.
Stritch researchers used aspiration and catheterisation techniques to collect uncontaminated urine samples directly from the bladders of female participants. The samples were then analysed using an expanded quantitative urine culture technique, which identifies bacteria undetectable by the standard urine culture techniques typically used to diagnose urinary tract syndromes; 16S rDNA sequencing was used to classify bacterial DNA. “While traditional urine cultures have been the gold standard to identify urine disorders in the past, they do not detect most bacteria and have limited utility as a result,” explained Dr Wolfe. “They are not as comprehensive as the testing techniques used in this study.”
Through this analysis the team revealed that specific bacteria in the female bladder may contribute to symptoms of urinary incontinence, and that some types of bacteria are more common in women with urgency urinary incontinence compared with healthy women. “If we can determine that select bacteria cause various lower urinary tract symptoms, we may be able to better identify those women at risk and more effectively treat them,” said Dr Linda Brubaker, co-author, Dean and Chief Diversity Officer, SSOM.
Loyola researchers will further investigate the role of urinary bacteria in health and disease to discover more about common lower urinary tract disorders such as urinary tract infections, overactive bladder, urinary incontinence, and painful bladder syndromes.