Uropathogenic Escherichia coli

EcoSal Plus. 2009 Aug;3(2). doi: 10.1128/ecosalplus.


The urinary tract is among the most common sites of bacterial infection, and Escherichia coli is by far the most common species infecting this site. Individuals at high risk for symptomatic urinary tract infection (UTI) include neonates, preschool girls, sexually active women, and elderly women and men. E. coli that cause the majority of UTIs are thought to represent only a subset of the strains that colonize the colon. E. coli strains that cause UTIs are termed uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC). In general, UPEC strains differ from commensal E. coli strains in that the former possess extragenetic material, often on pathogenicity-associated islands (PAIs), which code for gene products that may contribute to bacterial pathogenesis. Some of these genes allow UPEC to express determinants that are proposed to play roles in disease. These factors include hemolysins, secreted proteins, specific lipopolysaccharide and capsule types, iron acquisition systems, and fimbrial adhesions. The current dogma of bacterial pathogenesis identifies adherence, colonization, avoidance of host defenses, and damage to host tissues as events vital for achieving bacterial virulence. These considerations, along with analysis of the E. coli CFT073, UTI89, and 536 genomes and efforts to identify novel virulence genes should advance the field significantly and allow for the development of a comprehensive model of pathogenesis for uropathogenic E. coli.Further study of the adaptive immune response to UTI will be especially critical to refine our understanding and treatment of recurrent infections and to develop vaccines.