The bladder microbiome and interstitial cystitis: is there a connection?

Interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome (PBS) is a debilitating condition, the etiology of which remains unclear and for which there are variable and often unsatisfactory treatment options. Within the last decade, evolving knowledge regarding the presence and role of the urinary microbiome has led to investigations regarding its impact on symptoms and severity of interstitial cystitis PBS.

Since 2017, five studies have investigated differences between the microbiome of female patients with interstitial cystitis /PBS to asymptomatic controls. While varied in methodology, specifically with regard to urine collection processing and microbial detection, the majority of studies (4/5) found no association between urinary microbiota and interstitial cystitis /PBS.

Research regarding the role of the urinary microbiome and lower urinary tract function and dysfunction, including interstitial cystitis /BPS, remains in preliminary stages. While data regarding the role of lactobacillus in lower urinary tract homeostasis is inconclusive, further research is warranted.

Current opinion in obstetrics & gynecology. 2021 Sep 01 [Epub ahead of print]

Melinda G Abernethy, Angie Tsuei

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA.

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