Background: Growing antibiotic resistance warrants studying nonantibiotic prophylaxis for recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs). Use of lactobacilli appears to be promising.
Methods: Between January 2005 and August 2007, we randomized 252 postmenopausal women with recurrent UTIs taking part in a double-blind noninferiority trial to receive 12 months of prophylaxis with trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, 480 mg, once daily or oral capsules containing 109 colony-forming units of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14 twice daily. Primary end points were the mean number of symptomatic UTIs, proportion of participants with at least 1 UTI during 12 months, time to first UTI, and development of antibiotic resistance by Escherichia coli.
Results: The mean number of symptomatic UTIs in the year preceding randomization was 7.0 in the trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole group and 6.8 in the lactobacilli group. In the intention-to-treat analysis, after 12 months of prophylaxis, these numbers were 2.9 and 3.3, respectively. The between-treatment difference of 0.4 UTIs per year (95% CI, -0.4 to 1.5) was outside our noninferiority margin. At least 1 symptomatic UTI occurred in 69.3% and 79.1% of the trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and lactobacilli participants, respectively; median times to the first UTI were 6 and 3 months, respectively. After 1 month of trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole prophylaxis, resistance to trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, trimethoprim, and amoxicillin had increased from approximately 20% to 40% to approximately 80% to 95% in E coli from the feces and urine of asymptomatic women and among E coli causing a UTI. During the 3 months after trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole discontinuation, resistance levels gradually decreased. Resistance did not increase during lactobacilli prophylaxis.
Conclusions: In postmenopausal women with recurrent UTIs, L rhamnosus GR-1 and L reuteri RC-14 do not meet the noninferiority criteria in the prevention of UTIs when compared with trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. However, unlike trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, lactobacilli do not increase antibiotic resistance. TRIAL REGISTRATION isrctn.org Identifier: ISRCTN50717094.