Patients with persistent lower urinary tract symptoms and negative urine cultures are often difficult to treat. Infection may go undetected in these patients because the concentrations of bacteria in their urine are beneath the threshold of standard urine culture techniques. Empiric treatment may result in temporary relief, followed by recurrent symptoms. Occult and recurrent urinary tract infection may be due to both invasion of the bladder wall by uropathogenic Escherichia coli and the formation of biofilm-like intracellular bacterial communities. This review examines emerging evidence for a role of intracellular bacterial communities in human infection.
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