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Infect Immun. 1983 Apr;40(1):273-83.

Ascending, unobstructed urinary tract infection in mice caused by pyelonephritogenic Escherichia coli of human origin.


A model for ascending unobstructed urinary tract infection was developed in mice to study the pathogenesis of urinary tract infection induced by Escherichia coli associated with urinary tract infection in humans. Specifically, the model was designed to monitor the initial stages of the infectious process, e.g., bacterial adhesion. Mice were selected since the specificity and intensity of bacterial attachment of pyelonephritogenic E. coli strains to human and mouse uroepithelial cells were similar. Female mice were infected by urethral catheterization and installation of bacteria in the urinary bladder. To maximize clearance of unattached bacteria, no obstructive manipulations were performed. After sacrifice, the persistence of bacteria in kidneys and bladder was determined by viable counts on homogenized tissues. The experimental infection was standardized by using one pyelonephritis (HU734) and one normal fecal (414) E. coli isolate. With both strains all of the bladders became infected, but E. coli 414 was eliminated more rapidly than HU734. The percentage of positive kidney cultures increased with the bacterial inoculum concentration and volume. An inoculum of 0.05 ml containing 10(10) bacteria per ml was selected, giving the highest percentage of positive kidney cultures without detectable bacterial spread to the blood stream. The variation in the percentage of positive kidney cultures possibly depended on the degree of vesicoureteric reflux in the individual animals. Both in the kidneys and in the urinary bladders, strain HU734 yielded higher numbers of bacteria at 24 h and persisted longer than did strain 414. Several E. coli pyelonephritis isolates with properties associated with virulence in the human urinary tract consistently were recovered from mouse kidneys and bladders in higher numbers than E. coli strains of human fecal origin lacking those properties. The role of bacterial adhesion per se is the topic of the accompanying paper.

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