Bacterial loads of Ureaplasma parvum contribute to the development of inflammatory responses in the male urethra

Int J STD AIDS. 2015 Dec;26(14):1035-9. doi: 10.1177/0956462414565796. Epub 2014 Dec 17.


Ureaplasma parvum, which has been recognised as a coloniser in the male urethra, is detected in some men with non-gonococcal urethritis. In this study, we quantified the 16 S rRNA genes of U. parvum by a real-time polymerase chain reaction-based assay in first-voided urine from 15 symptomatic and 38 asymptomatic men who were positive only for U. parvum. We also determined the leukocyte counts by automated quantitative urine particle analysis in their first-voided urine. Positive correlations were observed between copies of the 16 S rRNA genes of U. parvum/ml and the leukocyte counts/µl in first-voided urine (p = 0.0019). The loads of ≥10(4) copies of the 16 S rRNA gene/ml, corresponding to ≥5 × 10(3) cells of U. parvum/ml, were significantly associated with the presence of ≥12.5 leukocytes/µl in first-voided urine that might document the presence of inflammatory responses in the urethra. However, a large portion of the subjects (83.0%) had bacterial loads of <5 × 10(3) cells of U. parvum/ml, and 79.5% of them showed <12.5 leukocytes/µl. The ambiguity of the pathogenic role of U. parvum in non-gonococcal urethritis could, in part, be due to its low bacterial loads, which might not give rise to inflammatory responses in the male urethra.

Keywords: Ureaplasma parvum; bacterial load; leukocyte count; men; non-gonococcal urethritis; real-time polymerase chain reaction; sexually transmitted infection.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacterial Load*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Male
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics*
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ureaplasma / classification
  • Ureaplasma / genetics*
  • Ureaplasma / isolation & purification*
  • Ureaplasma Infections / diagnosis*
  • Ureaplasma Infections / microbiology
  • Ureaplasma Infections / urine
  • Urethritis / diagnosis
  • Urethritis / epidemiology*
  • Urethritis / microbiology
  • Urinalysis


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S