Urinary Microbiomes Differ for Women With Urgency Incontinence

July 25, 2014

The bacteria profile of the bladders of women with urgency urinary incontinence may help with future prevention, diagnosis, and treatment options.

Differences in bacteria found in the bladders of women who have urgency urinary incontinence (UUI) and women who do not may help with future prevention, diagnosis, and treatment options.

A small study from researchers at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine revealed statistically significant differences in the frequency and abundance of bacteria present in women with UUI when compared with the bacteria in the bladders of healthy women.

Pertinent Points

- Bacteria found in the bladders of healthy women differ from bacteria in women with urgency urinary incontinence.

- The findings may have strong implications for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of women with this common form of incontinence, particularly in women who do not respond to current medications aimed at treating the problem.

"If we can determine that certain bacteria cause UUI symptoms, we may be able to better identify those at risk for this condition and more effectively treat them," said Alan Wolfe, PhD, co-investigator and professor of Microbiology and Immunology.

The study evaluated urine samples from 90 women.

Specifically, the researchers found that when compared with the non-UUI microbiome, the UUI microbiome had increased total numbers of Gardnerella and decreased numbers of Lactobacillus bacteria. The analysis also identified nine genera that were more frequently cultured from women with UUI, which were Actinobaculum,Actinomyces,Aerococcus,Arthrobacter,Corynebacterium, Gardnerella,Oligella,Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus.

Finally, although Lactobacillus was isolated from both cohorts, the researchers noted distinctions between the two groups, with Lactobacillus gasseri detected more frequently in the UUI cohort and Lactobacillus crispatus most frequently detected in controls.

The authors said that the differences they found suggest a potential role for the urinary microbiome in female urinary health. That’s because approximately 40% to 50% of women with UUI do not respond to conventional treatments. A possible explanation for the lack of response to medication may be the bacteria present in these women, they suggested.

The findings were published in the July 9 issue of the American Society for Microbiology's online journal mBio.