Urinary ATP and visualization of intracellular bacteria: A superior diagnostic marker for recurrent UTI in renal transplant recipients? - Abstract

Renal transplant recipients (RTR) are highly susceptible to urinary tract infections (UTIs) with over 50% of patients having at least one UTI within the first year.

Yet it is generally acknowledged that there is considerable insensitivity and inaccuracy in routine urinalysis when screening for UTIs. Thus a large number of transplant patients with genuine urine infections may go undiagnosed and develop chronic recalcitrant infections, which can be associated with graft loss and morbidity. Given a recent study demonstrating ATP is released by urothelial cells in response to bacteria exposure, possibly acting at metabotropic P2Y receptors mediating a proinflammatory response, we have investigated alternative, and possibly more appropriate, urinalysis techniques in a cohort of RTRs. Mid-stream urine (MSU) samples were collected from 53 outpatient RTRs. Conventional leukocyte esterase and nitrite dipstick tests, and microscopic pyuria counts (in 1 μl), ATP concentration measurements, and identification of intracellular bacteria in shed urothelial cells, were performed on fresh unspun samples and compared to 'gold-standard' bacterial culture results. Of the 53 RTRs, 22% were deemed to have a UTI by 'gold-standard' conventional bacteria culture, whereas 87%, 8% and 4% showed evidence of UTIs according to leukocyte esterase dipstick, nitrite dipstick, and a combination of both dipsticks, respectively. Intracellular bacteria were visualized in shed urothelial cells of 44% of RTRs, however only 1 of the 23 RTRs (44%) was deemed to have a UTI by conventional bacteria culture. A significant association of the 'gold-standard' test with urinary ATP concentration combined with visualization of intracellular bacteria in shed urothelial cells was determined using the Fisher's exact test. It is apparent that standard bedside tests for UTIs give variable results and that seemingly quiescent bacteria in urothelial cells are very common in RTRs and may represent a focus of subclinical infection. Furthermore, our results suggest urinary ATP concentration combined with detection of intracellular bacteria in shed urinary epithelial cells may be a sensitive means by which to detect 'occult' infection in RTRs.

Written by:
Kelley SP, Courtneidge HR, Birch RE, Contreras-Sanz A, Kelly MC, Durodie J, Peppiatt-Wildman CM, Farmer CK, Delaney MP, Malone-Lee J, Harber MA, Wildman SS.   Are you the author?
Research Department of Clinical Physiology, Whittington Campus, University College London Medical School, London, UK.

Reference: Springerplus. 2014 Apr 23;3:200.
doi: 10.1186/2193-1801-3-200

PubMed Abstract
PMID: 24839587

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