Medical Professional Publications

E. Coli-Derived Probiotic Shows Promise in Halting Growth of UTI-Causing Bacteria, In Vitro

A non-disease-causing strain of E. coli found in an existing dietary supplement may halt the growth of many urinary-tract-infection-causing bacteria, according to laboratory studies.

Pediatric urinary tract infections (UTI) remain a common problem affecting up to nearly 12 percent of all children.  Despite modern medical management, many children continue to develop recurrent infections. “Prophylactic antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed treatment for recurrent urinary tract infections but this regimen has recently been called into question by the medical community,” said Sheryl Justice, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis at The Research Institute.  “Prophylactic antibiotics don’t seem to help prevent kidney damage caused by infection and antibiotic resistant organisms lead to breakthrough infections.”  

Recently, probiotics have been prescribed in an effort to re-colonize the digestive system with healthy bacteria.  Probiotics are live organisms, commonly consumed as foods with specially added active live cultures, such as yogurt or dietary supplements.

“Lactobacillus-based probiotics have been prescribed in cases of urinary tract infections in order to re-colonize the bowel and urinary tract with lactobacillus in an attempt to eliminate uropathogens from these sites,” said Dr. Justice.  “However, they have only shown limited success in the prevention of recurrent UTIs,” said Dr. Justice.  “Also, unlike the bacteria seen in adults, the lactobacillus microflora does not appear to be altered in children susceptible to UTIs. Therefore lactobacillus-based probiotics may not be as effective in young girls.”

Mutaflor®, a probiotic produced in Germany, contains Nissle 1917, a non-pathogenic pathogenic E. coli strain as its active component. Mutaflor® has been successfully and safely used in the treatment of children with inflammatory bowel disease and diarrhea.  Studies have demonstrated its ability to colonize the bowel and displace pathologic bacteria.  “Since most of the pathogens that infect the pediatric urogenital system originate and reside within the gut, we examined whether Mutaflor® could be beneficial in preventing pediatric urinary tract infections,” said Dr. Justice.  

To investigate the antibacterial activity of Nissle 1917 against known pediatric uropathogens, Dr. Justice and colleagues received samples from children presenting to Nationwide Children’s Hospital for treatment of a urinary tract infection and identified 43 different bacterial isolates known to have caused the infections.  They then examined how and to what degree Nissle 1917 microcin production affected the growth of these uropathogens.  Bacteria generate protein-like toxins called microcin that eliminate other bacteria from their environment.

Findings showed that Nissle 1917 interfered with the growth of 79 percent of the pediatric uropathogens and successfully eradicated almost all of the bacterial species within the UTI library. Also, very few uropathogens were able to inhibit Nissle 1917’s growth.  

“Mutaflor® appears to be an attractive agent to promote a healthy gastrointestinal tract which should reduce the rate of recurrent urinary tract infections in children,” said Dr. Justice.  “This probiotic appears to be sufficiently safe and promising to warrant therapeutic application in controlled clinical trials.”

These data were presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in 2010 and selected from abstracts for plenary presentation.  

Did You Know?
A study from Nationwide Children’s found that urinary tract infections are a leading cause of infection-related hospitalization in U.S. kids, trailing close behind respiratory infections such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis.

Spencer JD, Schwaderer A, McHugh K, Hains DS. Pediatric urinary tract infections; an analysis of hospitalizations, charges, and costs in the USA. Pediatr Nephrol. 2010 Dec., 25(12):2469-75.

Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000