Urinary tract infections-microbial virulence determinants and reactive oxygen species

Comp Immunol Microbiol Infect Dis. Sep-Nov 2005;28(5-6):339-49. doi: 10.1016/j.cimid.2005.09.002.


The human urinary tract is able to combat with the microbial invasion under normal circumstances. To cause urinary tract infection the organism has to evade the host defense mechanisms by possessing distinct properties which contribute to the virulence of the organism hence called virulence determinants Ninety percent of uncomplicated urinary tract infections are caused by Escherichia coli, hence the knowledge of the virulence determinants of this organism can be extrapolated to other uropathogenic organism as well. Virulence determinants of uropathogenic E. coli include adhesins, siderophore production, polysaccharide coating, hemolysin production, outer membrane proteins etc. The intestinal E. coli, which are the reservoir of E. coli for causing UTI, lack these virulence determinants. On the other hand these virulence determinants enable the organism to colonize and invade the urinary tract. In addition these are important in acquiring the nutrients in other wise nutrient deficient environment. Further, they also help the organisms in triggering an inflammatory response and hence bringing about pathological changes which leads to symptomatic UTI. Severity of symptomatic infections and tissue damage during the infective process depends upon the magnitude of the inflammatory response triggered by the uropathogen which in turn is dependent upon the amount of extrcellular release of reactive oxygen species by the phagocytic cells; hence role of antioxidants as an adjunct to antibiotics in the treatment of infective process needs to be evaluated further.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adhesins, Bacterial / metabolism
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • Urinary Tract Infections / metabolism*
  • Urinary Tract Infections / microbiology*
  • Virulence
  • Virulence Factors / metabolism


  • Adhesins, Bacterial
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Virulence Factors
  • Iron