Publication date: Available online 4 November 2014
Source:Advances in Microbial Physiology
Author(s): Petra Lüthje , Annelie Brauner
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) belong to the most common infectious diseases worldwide. The most frequently isolated pathogen from uncomplicated UTIs is Escherichia coli. To establish infection in the urinary tract, E. coli has to overcome several defence strategies of the host, including the urine flow, exfoliation of urothelial cells, endogenous antimicrobial factors and invading neutrophils. Thus, uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) harbour a number of virulence and fitness factors enabling the bacterium to resist and overcome these different defence mechanisms. There is no particular factor which allows the identification of UPEC among the commensal faecal flora apart from the ability to enter the urinary tract and cause an infection. Many of potential virulence or fitness factors occur moreover with high redundancy. Fimbriae are inevitable for adherence to and invasion into the host cells; the type 1 pilus is an established virulence factor in UPEC and indispensable for successful infection of the urinary tract. Flagella and toxins promote bacterial dissemination, while different iron-acquisition systems allow bacterial survival in the iron-limited environment of the urinary tract. The immune response to UPEC is primarily mediated by toll-like receptors recognising lipopolysaccharide, flagella and other structures on the bacterial surface. UPEC have the capacity to subvert this immune response of the host by means of actively impacting on pro-inflammatory signalling pathways, or by physical masking of immunogenic structures. The large repertoire of bacterial virulence and fitness factors in combination with host-related differences results in a complex interaction between host and pathogen in the urinary tract.