A mouse model displays host and bacterial strain differences in Aerococcus urinae urinary tract infection

Biol Open. 2021 Aug 15;10(8):bio058931. doi: 10.1242/bio.058931. Epub 2021 Aug 13.


In recent years, the clinical significance of Aerococcus urinae has been increasingly recognized. A. urinae has been implicated in cases of urinary tract infection (UTI; acute cystitis and pyelonephritis) in both male and female patients, ranging from children to older adults. Aerococcus urinae can also be invasive, causing urosepsis, endocarditis, and musculoskeletal infections. Mechanisms of pathogenesis in A. urinae infections are poorly understood, largely due to the lack of an animal model system. In response to this gap, we developed a model of A. urinae urinary tract infection in mice. We compared A. urinae UTI in female C3H/HeN and C57BL/6 mice and compared four clinical isolates of A. urinae isolated from patients with UTI, urgency urinary incontinence, and overactive bladder. Our data demonstrate that host genetic background modulates A. urinae UTI. Female C57BL/6 female mice rapidly cleared the infection. Female C3H/HeN mice, which have inherent vesicoureteral reflux that flushes urine from the bladder up into the kidneys, were susceptible to prolonged bacteriuria. This result is consistent with the fact that A. urinae infections most frequently occur in patients with underlying urinary tract abnormalities or disorders that make them susceptible to bacterial infection. Unlike uropathogens such as E. coli, which cause infection and inflammation both of the bladder and kidneys in C3H/HeN mice, A. urinae displayed tropism for the kidney, persisting in kidney tissue even after clearance of bacteria from the bladder. Aerococcus urinae strains from different genetic clades displayed varying propensities to cause persistent kidney infection. Aerococcus urinae infected kidneys displayed histological inflammation, neutrophil recruitment and increased pro-inflammatory cytokines. These results set the stage for future research that interrogates host-pathogen interactions between A. urinae and the urinary tract.

Keywords: Gram-positive; Inflammation; Kidney; Urinary tract infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aerococcus* / classification
  • Aerococcus* / genetics
  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Genetic Background
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Genomics / methods
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / pathology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Phylogeny
  • Urinary Tract Infections / microbiology*
  • Urinary Tract Infections / pathology

Supplementary concepts

  • Aerococcus urinae