Urinary tract infection caused by E.coli triggers inflammation through FimH protein attachments on cell surfaces

utiUrinary tract infection (UTI) caused by E.coli triggers inflammation through FimH protein attachments on the cell surfaces. Most common among women, UTIs are typically caused by E.coli bacteria. The infection takes place when E.coli travel though the urethra to the bladder. UTIs can be quite painful and result in burning sensations when urinating, lower back pain, and urinary frequency. The research teams at the Biozentrum and the Pharmazentrum of the University of Basel and the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biophysics at the ETH Zurich, have found how bacteria attach to the urinary tract through the protein FimH, which allows them to travel up the urethra.

Sitting at the tip of a bacterium’s extension, FimH forms a tiny hook to attach to the cell surface of the urinary tract. What so special about FimH is its characteristic ability to bind even stronger to the cell surface while being pulled away. That’s why, instead of being pushed out during urination, FimH protects the bacterium, which ultimately ends up in the urethra.


Researcher Professor Rudolf Glockshuber said, “Through the combination of several biophysical and biochemical methods, we have been able to elucidate the binding behavior of FimH in more detail than ever before.”

Fellow researcher Professor Timm Maier said, “The protein FimH is composed of two parts, of which the second non-sugar binding part regulates how tightly the first part binds to the sugar molecule. When the force of the urine stream pulls apart the two protein domains, the sugar binding site snaps shut. However, when the tensile force subsides, the binding pocket reopens. Now the bacteria can detach and swim upstream the urethra.”

Antibiotics are commonly prescribed to treat UTIs, but research is underway for developing a treatment that targets E.coli to help prevent FimH from latching on. Shedding some light on the mechanism of the UTI development, the new findings will hopefully contribute to more effective treatments.

Home remedies for urinary tract infections

The good news is, there are natural remedies for UTIs. So if you act promptly upon noticing the first symptoms such as burning when you urinate, you can get rid of your UTI at the onset. Here’s what to do:

  • Drink lots of water.Drinking water helps flush away the bacteria, putting you on track for recovery. Eight glasses a day is a general guideline. Add fresh lemon or lime to boost flavor and help with detoxification.
  • Sip cranberry juice.Choose the tart, unsweetened juice (sugar adds nothing but calories). Cranberry for bladder health has been a topic of discussion and study. Research shows drinking pure cranberry juice can help prevent UTIs in elderly, pregnant women, and hospitalized patients.
  • Ease the pain with heat:Inflammation and irritation from a UTI can leave you with pressure and pain around your pubic area or lower back. Try some heat therapy. Apply a heating pad at low temperature for about 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
  • Get more vitamin C:This healthy vitamin found in berries (like cranberries!), citrus fruits, melons, and cabbage, can help make your urine more acidic, which helps support a healthy urinary tract.
  • Eat some yogurt:You want to blast that bad bacteria with good bacteria. If you’ve read anything about yogurt these days, you’ll know the popular dairy treat is packed with probiotics, or good bacteria, for your gut.
  • Ditch the irritants:Now’s the time to focus on your health, so you want to cut out things that can irritate your bladder and make it harder for your body to heal. The culprits? Caffeine, nicotine, spicy food, alcohol, carbonated drinks, and those artificial sweeteners. On the upside, consume more high-fiber carbohydrates like grains, and healthy fats like nuts and olive oil – all good for digestion.
  • Run to the bathroom – again:While it’s unpleasant and annoying, keep making those bathroom trips. Every time you go, even if you urinate only a small amount, you’re getting rid of some of the bad bacteria that are causing the UTI.
  • Wipe front to back:Another bathroom tip, always wipe from the front to back to avoid infection. Don’t try to reach from behind – germs from the rectum can be transferred to the toilet paper or your hand. Also, never wipe twice with the same tissue.

Try all these home remedies to keep your bladder in top form. They’re easier than you think – and a more natural fix than turning to your doctor for a prescription. So the next time you’re rushing to the bathroom, be aware of urinary tract infection symptoms, just in case, and enjoy your cranberry juice.

Related: Urine specific gravity test: How well your kidneys are diluting your urine

Author Bio

Mohan Garikiparithi got his degree in medicine from Osmania University (University of Health Sciences). He practiced clinical medicine for over a decade before he shifted his focus to the field of health communications. During his active practice he served as the head of the Dept. of Microbiology in a diagnostic centre in India. On a three-year communications program in Germany, Mohan developed a keen interest in German Medicine (Homoeopathy), and other alternative systems of medicine. He now advocates treating different medical conditions without the use of traditional drugs. An ardent squash player, Mohan believes in the importance of fitness and wellness.



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