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N Engl J Med. 1981 Apr 30;304(18):1062-6.

Association of in vitro Escherichia coli adherence to vaginal and buccal epithelial cells with susceptibility of women to recurrent urinary-tract infections.


To identify changes in epithelial cells that were associated with susceptibility to recurrent urinary-tract infections, we investigated the adherence of Escherichia coli to vaginal and buccal cells obtained from 11 healthy controls and 24 patients who had had at least three such infections in the preceding year. Adherence to vaginal cells was greater in patients than in controls (10.1 +/- 0.92 vs. 3.8 +/- 0.47 bacteria per cell [mean +/- S.E.], P less than 0.001), as was adherence to buccal cells (11.7 +/- 1.29 vs. 7.1 +/- 0.49, P = 0.002). This increased adherence in patients persisted despite temporary remission of the infection. Vaginal cells from patients not receiving antimicrobial prophylaxis had greater adherence than cells from patients given prophylactic therapy (11.7 +/- 1.34 vs. 8.3 +/- 1.0; P = 0.027). The range and rapidity of change in adherence as well as in vivo colonization of the vaginal mucosa were greater in patients than controls. Our data suggest that susceptibility to urinary-tract infections in women is associated with changes in the adhesive characteristics of epithelial cells.

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