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Eur J Clin Invest. 2008 Oct;38 Suppl 2:2-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2362.2008.01986.x. Epub 2008 Jul 8.

Mechanisms and consequences of bladder cell invasion by uropathogenic Escherichia coli.

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Division of Cell Biology and Immunology, Pathology Department, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112-0565, USA.


Strains of uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) are the major cause of urinary tract infections worldwide. Multiple studies over the past decade have called into question the dogmatic view that UPEC strains act as strictly extracellular pathogens. Rather, bacterial expression of filamentous adhesive organelles known as type 1 pili and Afa/Dr fibrils enable UPEC to invade host epithelial cells within the urinary tract. Entry into bladder epithelial cells provides UPEC with a protected niche where the bacteria can persist quiescently for long periods, unperturbed by host defences and protected from many antibiotic treatments. Alternately, internalized UPEC can rapidly multiply, forming large intracellular inclusions that can contain several thousand bacteria. Initial work aimed at defining the host and bacterial factors that modulate the entry, intracellular trafficking, and eventual resurgence of UPEC suggests a high degree of host-pathogen crosstalk. Targeted disruption of these processes may provide a novel means to prevent and treat recurrent, relapsing and chronic infections within the urinary tract.

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