Monday, May 19, 2014

Study debunks common misconception that urine is sterile

Bacterial differences found in urine of healthy women and women with overactive bladder

MAYWOOD, Ill. (May 19, 2014) - Bacteria live in the bladders of healthy women, discrediting the common belief that normal urine is sterile. This finding was presented today by researchers from Loyola University Chicago at the 114th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Boston.

“Doctors have been trained to believe that urine is germ-free,” said Linda Brubaker, MD, MS, co-investigator and dean, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (SSOM). “These findings challenge this notion, so this research opens the door to exciting new possibilities for patient treatment."

This study also revealed that bladder bacteria in healthy women differ from the bladder bacteria in women affected by overactive bladder (OAB), which causes a sudden need to urinate.

“The presence of certain bacteria in women with overactive bladder may contribute to OAB symptoms,” said Evann Hilt, lead investigator and second-year master’s student, Loyola University Chicago. “Further research is needed to determine if these bacterial differences are clinically relevant for the millions of women with OAB and the doctors who treat them."

Approximately 15 percent of women suffer from OAB and yet an estimated 40-50 percent do not respond to conventional treatments. One possible explanation for the lack of response to medication may be the bacteria present in these women.

“If we can determine that certain bacteria cause OAB symptoms, we may be able to better identify those at risk for this condition and more effectively treat them,” said Alan Wolfe, PhD, co-investigator and professor of Microbiology and Immunology, SSOM.
This study evaluated urine specimens of 90 women with and without OAB symptoms. Urine samples were collected through a catheter and analyzed using an expanded quantitative urine culture (EQUC) technique. This EQUC technique was able to find bacteria that are not identified by the standard urine culture techniques typically used to diagnose urinary tract syndromes.

“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,” said Paul Schreckenberger, PhD, director, clinical microbiology laboratory, Loyola University Health System. “They are not as comprehensive as the EQUC protocol used in this study."

Loyola researchers now plan to determine which bacteria in the bladder are helpful and which are harmful. They also will look at how these bacteria interact with each other and their host and how this information can be used to help patients. This research is in line with a larger international effort that is under way to identify the core bacterial composition of a healthy human body. The goal is to correlate changes in the composition of bacterial communities in and on the body with certain diseases.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.