In a breakthrough, US researchers have found that women's bladder is not a sterile place and can contain both beneficial and deadly bacteria, a finding that could lead to better diagnostic tests for urinary tract infections (UTI). According to the new research, experts have discovered bacteria is shared between the vagina and bladder.
Corresponding authors of the study are Loyola University Chicago microbiologist Alan J. Wolfe, PhD, and Trevor D. Lawley, PhD, of the Wellcome Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom. The findings debunked the common belief that urine in healthy women is sterile and the microbiota includes pathogens such as E. coli and S. anginosus as well as beneficial bacteria such as L. iners and L. crispatus.
Speaking about it, lead author of the study, Dr Alan Wolfe said that now that they know that bladder is not sterile, they have to reevaluate everything they thought they knew about the bladder. Researchers sequenced the genes of 149 bacterial strains from 77 women.
The beneficial bacteria residing in both the bladder and vagina could provide protection against urinary infections. The researchers found that the bacterial microbiota- the bacterial community inside the body- were similar in the bladder and vagina, but not in the gastrointestinal tract.
It's not surprising the microbiota of the bladder and vagina are similar since the organs are connected by the urethra. It appears that the bacteria travel from the vagina to the bladder, effectively creating one microbiota niche.
The scientists summarize that bacteria must be able to travel between the two organs via urine. But it's a mystery how bacteria could travel from the vagina to the bladder, especially since most of the bacteria examined in the study lack features such as flagella, or pili that would enable them to move.