Methods to determine effects of cranberry proanthocyanidins on extraintestinal infections: Relevance for urinary tract health

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2015 Jul;59(7):1292-306. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201500108. Epub 2015 Jun 1.


Urinary tract infections (UTI) are one of the most frequent extraintestinal infections caused by Escherichia coli (ExPEC). Cranberry juice has been used for decades to alleviate symptoms and prevent recurrent UTI. The putative compounds in cranberries are proanthocyanidins (PAC), specifically PAC with "A-type" bonds. Since PAC are not absorbed, their health benefits in UTI may occur through interactions at the mucosal surface in the gastrointestinal tract. Recent research showed that higher agglutination of ExPEC and reduced bacterial invasion are correlated with higher number of "A-type" bonds and higher degree of polymerization of PAC. An understanding of PAC structure-activity relationship is becoming feasible due to advancements, not only in obtaining purified PAC fractions that allow accurate estimation, but also in high-resolution MS methodologies, specifically, MALDI-TOF MS. A recent MALDI-TOF MS deconvolution method allows quantification of the ratios of "A-type" to "B-type" bonds enabling characteristic fingerprints. Moreover, the generation of fluorescently labeled PAC allows visualization of the interaction between ExPEC and PAC with microscopy. These tools can be used to establish structure-activity relationships between PAC and UTI and give insight on the mechanism of action of these compounds in the gut without being absorbed.

Keywords: Cranberry; Extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli; MALDI-TOF MS; Urinary tract infections; “A-type” proanthocyanidins.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biological Availability
  • Chromatography / methods
  • Escherichia coli Infections / diet therapy
  • Humans
  • Proanthocyanidins / chemistry*
  • Proanthocyanidins / pharmacokinetics
  • Proanthocyanidins / pharmacology*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization / methods
  • Spectrophotometry / methods
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Urinary Tract Infections / diet therapy
  • Urinary Tract Infections / microbiology
  • Uropathogenic Escherichia coli / drug effects*
  • Uropathogenic Escherichia coli / pathogenicity
  • Vaccinium macrocarpon / chemistry*


  • Proanthocyanidins