BACTERIA in the bladder may indicate whether postmenopausal females are susceptible to recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI), according to new research from the University of Texas, Dallas, USA. Furthermore, the researchers believe oestrogen may reduce this susceptibility. More than 50% of females experience a UTI in their life, and they are one of the most common bacterial infections in adults.
Philippe Zimmern, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA, and colleagues conducted a study including 75 postmenopausal females, who were categorised into three groups: those without a history of UTIs, those with recurrent UTIs who were not experiencing one during testing, and those with recurrent UTIs who were experiencing one during testing. The study suggested that females who are in between infections had a microbiome with fewer good bacteria, and more bacteria that could cause disease. Furthermore, taking oestrogen therapy was associated with reduced amount of bad bacteria in the bladder, and predominance of good bacteria.
Researchers also noted that patients with recurrent UTIS had a microbiome that contained more antibiotic resistance genes, compared to those without a history of UTI, making infections harder to treat. Antibiotics are often prescribed when they are not needed, and the cycle of recurrent infections cannot be solved if more antibiotics are prescribed. Author Nicole De Nisco, School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, University of Texas, stated: “We need to start thinking about out-of-the-box therapies that don’t rely so heavily on antibiotics. Rather, we can use things such as oestrogen or maybe we give a combined therapy of oestrogen and a probiotic.” The data from this study could help with the development of new prevention or screening tools.
The research focuses on a demographic that is often overlooked, and the team stated that more research, treatments, and attention is needed on chronic infections in older female patients. The team has now started to conduct a 5-year longitudinal study to track the microbiome of postmenopausal women, in patients with and without a history of (recurrent) UTI.