JUL 21, 2020 6:52 AM PDT

Hormone Therapies Keep Urinary Tract Infections at Bay

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

More than half of all women will suffer from a urinary tract infection, or UTI, during their lifetimes. Women are considerably more susceptible to developing UTIs than men, with experts estimating an eight-fold elevation in infection risk. More than being uncomfortable and annoying, there are serious consequences should the infection spread to the kidneys.

A recent study has revealed an unlikely connection between menopausal hormone therapy and protection against UTIs. This US-based study, a first of its kind, also demonstrated an interesting fact: women who suffer from frequent, persistent UTIs have different types of bacteria in their urine, indicating a disruption in the natural microbiome of the urinary tract. The results of the study were presented at the European Association of Urology Virtual Congress in Amsterdam.

This work, which was led by Nicole J. De Nisco, a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, analyzed DNA from the bacteria present in the urine of 75 postmenopausal women. The results indicated that women who don’t experience recurrent UTIs have ten times more variety in the bacterial types present in their urine than those who do. The women who were taking hormone therapy also had more Lactobacillus-type bacteria present in their urine.

This implies that the estrogen in the hormone replacement therapy might be creating an environment in the urogenital tract where Lactobacillus flourish, resisting the takeover by “bad” UTI-causing bacteria.

“This is important because Lactobacilli are known to play a protective role against infections in the vagina and this function may be conserved in the urogenital tract,” said De Nisco.

“If Lactobacillus really can help with UTIs, development of a probiotic to use in conjunction with MHT may avoid antibiotic use in these women, but this needs to be tested.” These results also fit with previous work showing that women tended to have many more infections after menopause.

Follow up studies are focused on understanding the links between Lactobacillus colonization and the health of the urogenital system. “Possible future applications may include administering probiotic vaginal pessaries to women at risk of infection and perhaps prescribing estrogen therapy,” added De Nisco.


Sources: European Association of Urology Congress, Journal of Molecular Biology.

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
DEC 29, 2020
Immunology
Cancer-Killing Viruses Enter in Stealth Mode, Penetrate Immune Barrier
DEC 29, 2020
Cancer-Killing Viruses Enter in Stealth Mode, Penetrate Immune Barrier
Viruses that when administered to patients preferentially attack and kill cancer cells, leaving normal tissues unscathed ...
JAN 06, 2021
Immunology
What's Causing Prostate Cancer Patients to Doze Off?
JAN 06, 2021
What's Causing Prostate Cancer Patients to Doze Off?
For prostate cancer patients, androgen deprivation therapy or ADT is a standard treatment aimed at stalling the growth o ...
FEB 23, 2021
Immunology
Immune Link Explains Why Personality Influences Mortality
FEB 23, 2021
Immune Link Explains Why Personality Influences Mortality
University of Limerick researchers have discovered direct links between the immune system, specific personality traits, ...
FEB 25, 2021
Immunology
Asthma Inhalers Slash Risk of COVID Hospitalization by 90 Percent
FEB 25, 2021
Asthma Inhalers Slash Risk of COVID Hospitalization by 90 Percent
For mild cases of COVID, doctors recommend the usual regimen for getting through a cold or flu: Staying hydrated and res ...
MAR 31, 2021
Microbiology
Deep-Sea Microbes Are 'Invisible' to the Human Immune System
MAR 31, 2021
Deep-Sea Microbes Are 'Invisible' to the Human Immune System
Scientists took an exploratory journey to a place in the central Pacific Ocean in Kirbati called the Phoenix Islands Pro ...
APR 29, 2021
Immunology
A Week for World Immunization
APR 29, 2021
A Week for World Immunization
The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling our attention to World Immunization Week, which comes in the last week of ...
Loading Comments...