Background: A prospective cohort study was conducted to characterize the temporal sequence of microbial and inflammatory events immediately preceding Escherichia coli recurrent urinary tract infection (rUTI).
Methods: Women with acute cystitis and a history of UTI within the previous year self-collected periurethral and urine samples daily and recorded measurements of urine leukocyte esterase, symptoms, and sexual intercourse daily for 3 months. rUTI strains were characterized by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and genomic virulence profiling. Urinary cytokine levels were measured.
Results: There were 38 E. coli rUTIs in 29 of 104 women. The prevalence of periurethral rUTI strain carriage increased from 46% to 90% during the 14 days immediately preceding rUTI, with similar increases in same-strain bacteriuria (from 7% to 69%), leukocyte esterase (from 31% to 64%), and symptoms (from 3% to 43%), most notably 2-3 days before rUTI (P<.05 for all comparisons). Intercourse with periurethral carriage of the rUTI strain also increased before rUTI (P=.008). Recurrent UTIs preceded by bacteriuria, pyuria, and symptoms were caused by strains less likely to have P fimbriae than other rUTI strains (P=.002).
Conclusions: Among women with frequent rUTIs, the prevalences of periurethral rUTI strain carriage, bacteriuria, pyuria, and intercourse dramatically increase over the days preceding rUTI. A better understanding of the pathogenesis of rUTI will lead to better prevention strategies.