Drug and Vaccine Development for the Treatment and Prevention of Urinary Tract Infections

Microbiol Spectr. 2016 Feb;4(1):10.1128/microbiolspec.UTI-0013-2012. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.UTI-0013-2012.


Urinary tract infections (UTI) are among the most common bacterial infections in humans, affecting millions of people every year. UTI cause significant morbidity in women throughout their lifespan, in infant boys, in older men, in individuals with underlying urinary tract abnormalities, and in those that require long-term urethral catheterization, such as patients with spinal cord injuries or incapacitated individuals living in nursing homes. Serious sequelae include frequent recurrences, pyelonephritis with sepsis, renal damage in young children, pre-term birth, and complications of frequent antimicrobial use including high-level antibiotic resistance and Clostridium difficile colitis. Uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) cause the vast majority of UTI, but less common pathogens such as Enterococcus faecalis and other enterococci frequently take advantage of an abnormal or catheterized urinary tract to cause opportunistic infections. While antibiotic therapy has historically been very successful in controlling UTI, the high rate of recurrence remains a major problem, and many individuals suffer from chronically recurring UTI, requiring long-term prophylactic antibiotic regimens to prevent recurrent UTI. Furthermore, the global emergence of multi-drug resistant UPEC in the past ten years spotlights the need for alternative therapeutic and preventative strategies to combat UTI, including anti-infective drug therapies and vaccines. In this chapter, we review recent advances in the field of UTI pathogenesis, with an emphasis on the identification of promising drug and vaccine targets. We then discuss the development of new UTI drugs and vaccines, highlighting the challenges these approaches face and the need for a greater understanding of urinary tract mucosal immunity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Bacterial Infections / prevention & control*
  • Bacterial Vaccines*
  • Humans
  • Urinary Tract Infections / drug therapy
  • Urinary Tract Infections / microbiology
  • Urinary Tract Infections / prevention & control*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Vaccines