Intracellular bacterial communities of uropathogenic Escherichia coli in urinary tract pathogenesis

Trends Microbiol. 2004 Sep;12(9):424-30. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2004.07.005.


Urinary tract infections in young, healthy women frequently recur, despite their traditional classification as acute infections. Conventional wisdom dictates that uropathogens causing recurrent infections in such individuals come from the fecal or vaginal flora, in the same manner as the initial infection. However, recent studies of uropathogenic Escherichia coli have found that it can carry out a complex developmental program within the superficial epithelial cells of the mouse bladder, forming intracellular bacterial communities with many biofilm-like properties. These intracellular biofilms allow the bacteria to outlast a strong host immune response to establish a dormant reservoir of pathogens inside the bladder cells. Re-emergence of bacteria from this reservoir might be the source of recurrent infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epithelial Cells / microbiology
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development
  • Escherichia coli / pathogenicity*
  • Escherichia coli Infections / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Urinary Bladder / microbiology
  • Urinary Tract Infections / etiology*
  • Virulence