The microbiome of the urinary tract--a role beyond infection

Nat Rev Urol. 2015 Feb;12(2):81-90. doi: 10.1038/nrurol.2014.361. Epub 2015 Jan 20.


Urologists rarely need to consider bacteria beyond their role in infectious disease. However, emerging evidence shows that the microorganisms inhabiting many sites of the body, including the urinary tract--which has long been assumed sterile in healthy individuals--might have a role in maintaining urinary health. Studies of the urinary microbiota have identified remarkable differences between healthy populations and those with urologic diseases. Microorganisms at sites distal to the kidney, bladder and urethra are likely to have a profound effect on urologic health, both positive and negative, owing to their metabolic output and other contributions. Connections between the gut microbiota and renal stone formation have already been discovered. In addition, bacteria are also used in the prevention of bladder cancer recurrence. In the future, urologists will need to consider possible influences of the microbiome in diagnosis and treatment of certain urological conditions. New insights might provide an opportunity to predict the risk of developing certain urological diseases and could enable the development of innovative therapeutic strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / therapeutic use
  • BCG Vaccine / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / microbiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Humans
  • Microbiota*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / microbiology*
  • Urinary Tract / microbiology*
  • Urinary Tract Infections / microbiology*
  • Urolithiasis / microbiology


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • BCG Vaccine