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Crit Rev Microbiol. 1988;16(1):37-79.

The ecology and pathogenicity of urease-producing bacteria in the urinary tract.

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Department of Urology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


Urease activity is a physiological function of many bacteria that enables these organisms to utilize urea as a source of nitrogen. The association of ureolytic bacteria with human or animal hosts varies widely from a commensal relationship as demonstrated with skin microflora, a symbiotic relationship in the gastrointestinal tract, to a pathogenic relationship in the urinary tract. Since similar or identical species of bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus are found in all three environments, the effect of urease activity on the host must be solely a function of the environment of these organisms. In this review, the importance of urease to bacteria is discussed, identifying the gastrointestinal tract as a major reservoir of ureolytic bacteria and investigating the urinary tract environment and the infectious struvite stone production that often accompanies urease-producing bacteria there. Finally, an infection model is presented which explains the development and growth of these urinary calculi and their remarkable persistence in spite of modern urological treatments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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