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Lecture 18: Microbial diseases of the urinary and reproductive system Edith Porter, M.D. MICR 201 Microbiology for Health Related Sciences. Lecture outline. Structure & function and normal microbiota of the urinary and reproductive system Ports of entry Diseases of the urinary system

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MICR 201 Microbiology for Health Related Sciences

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Lecture 18 microbial diseases of the urinary and reproductive system edith porter m d

Lecture 18: Microbial diseases of the urinary and reproductive system

Edith Porter, M.D.

MICR 201 Microbiology for Health Related Sciences

Lecture outline

Lecture outline

  • Structure & function and normal microbiota of the urinary and reproductive system

  • Ports of entry

  • Diseases of the urinary system

    • Bacterial

  • Diseases of the reproductive system

    • Bacterial

    • Viral

    • Fungal

    • Protozoan


Female urinary system

Female urinary system

Female reproductive organs

Female reproductive organs

Note the short urethra and proximity to anus

Male urinary and reproductive organs

Male urinary and reproductive organs

Normal microbiota

Normal microbiota

  • Urinary bladder and upper urinary and reproductive tract sterile

  • Urethral opening colonized with skin flora (mainly gram+ bacteria) and in men, Mycobacterium smegmatis

  • Lactobacilli predominant in the vagina

  • Urine is normally sterile but can be contaminated by the microbiota of the urethral opening

Ports of entry for microbial diseases of the urinary and reproductive systems

Ports of entry for microbial diseases of the urinary and reproductive systems

  • Microbes usually enter the urinary system through the urethra

  • Microbes usually enter the reproductive system through the vagina (females) or urethra (males)



  • Urinary bladder infection

  • Dysuria: difficult, painful and imperative urination

  • Usually caused by

    • E. coli

    • S. saprophyticus(in female)

  • May also be caused by

    • Associated with kidney stones: Proteus

    • Nosocomial: Klebsiella, Pseudomonas, Enterococcusfaecalis

  • Antibiotic-sensitivity tests should guide treatment

Diagnosis of cystitis

Diagnosis of cystitis

  • Clean catch urine (midstream urine after urethral opening had been cleansed)

  • Refrigerate until urine is processed, because there is typically some contaminating normal flora present (< 10,000/ml)

  • In general > 100,000 bacteria/ml = infection

    • Single organism



  • If cystitis left untreated pyelonephritis may follow

  • Fever, flank or back pain

  • 75% caused by E. coli

  • In the elderly danger of sepsis

  • i.v. antibiotics

Diseased kidney

Normal kidney

Sexually transmitted i nfections stis

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

  • Major public health impact

  • In the US ~15 Mio new cases/year (or ~30 new infections /min)

  • Female often without major symptoms

  • Major cause of infertility

  • Prevented by (properly used) condoms and vaccination (genital warts)

Most common causes of sti

Most common causes of STI

  • Most common bacterial STIs

    • Neisseriagonorrhoeae(gonorrhoea)

    • Chlamydia trachomatis(non-gonococcocalurethritis, NGU)

    • Treponemapallidum(Syphilis)

    • Treated with antibiotics

  • Most common viral STIs

    • Herpes simplex 2 (genital herpes)

    • Papilloma virus (genital warts, cervical cancer)

  • Other STIs

    • Fungal: candidiasis

    • Protozoan: trichomonas

Neisseria gonorrhoeae


  • Gram negative diplococci

  • Attaches to columnar epithelial cells via pili

    • Oropharyngeal, eyes, rectum, urethra, opening of cervix, external genitals of pre-pubertal females

    • Antigenic variation of pilin and expression of opa which blocks T cells and immunological memory

  • Typically urethritis, cervicitis

    • Females may be asymptomatic; males have painful urination and pus discharge

  • Old disease (name coined in A.D. 150 “flow of semen”)

  • In rare untreated cases systemic spread and joint infection

    • Arthritis (one knee joint only)

  • Upon birth

    • Ophthalmianeonatorum

Gonorrhea discharge and pus

Gonorrhea: discharge and pus


Incidence and geographical distribution of gonorrhoea

Incidence and geographical distribution of gonorrhoea

Cdc 2009 statistics

CDC: 2009 statistics

Nongonococcal urethritis


  • Chlamydia trachomatis

    • May be transmitted to newborn's eyes

    • Painful urination and watery discharge

  • Mycoplasmahominis

  • Ureaplasmaurealyticum

Watery discharge in CT

Chlamydia trachomatis

Chlamydia trachomatis

  • Infects epithelial cells

  • Special life cycle with 2 life forms

    • Elementary body, resistant and infectious

    • Reticulate body, sensitive and proliferating

  • Infection must be treated through 2 life cycles of CT

The two life forms of chlamydia

The two life forms of Chlamydia

48 h -72 h

Pathogenic factors of c trachomatis

Pathogenic factors of C. trachomatis

  • Contribute to intracellular survival and proliferation

  • In part secreted via Type III secretion apparatus

  • Effect actin rearrangement and endocytic uptake of CT

  • CT inserts proteins in inclusion (endosome) membrane that prevent fusion of host lysosomes

  • CT releases proteins into the cytoplasma that interfere with NFkB signal transduction, a key pathway of the acute inflammatory and innate immune response

Pelvic inflammatory disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease

  • N. gonorrhoeae

  • C. trachomatis

  • Scarring can block uterine tubes

  • Chronic abdominal pain

  • Infertility and ectopic pregnancies

Laparascopic image showing acute inflammation of right tube, fimbriae and ovaries

Diagnosis of gonorrhoea andngu

Diagnosis of gonorrhoeaandNGU

  • Nulceic acid amplification tests most accurate

    • PCR based

  • Antigen detection (ELISA)

  • Culture (gonorrhoea > NGU)



  • Treponemapallidum, gram negative spirochete

  • Invades mucosa or enters through skin breaks

Three stages of syphilis

Three stages of syphilis

  • 1. stage: acute ulcer (painless, hard), highly infectious

  • 2. stage: systemic spread into skin, highly infectious

  • 3. stage: gumma, immunological response in tissue, neurosyphilis,

Diagnosis of syphilis

Diagnosis of syphilis

  • Direct diagnosis:

    • Darkfield microscopic identification of bacteria

    • Staining with fluorescent-labeled, monoclonal antibodies

  • Indirect serological diagnosis

    • Reagins: antibodies against conserved structures on Treponema

    • Specific antibodies

Genital herpes

Genital herpes

  • Herpes simplex virus 2 (Human herpesvirus2 or HHV2)

  • Burning sensation followed by development of fluid filled vesicles

  • Sometimes non-symptomatic

  • Neonatal herpes transmitted to fetus or newborn

    • Spontaneous abortion of severe fetal damage

  • Virus enters latency with recurrence

Genital herpes recurrent very painful vesicles

Genital herpes: recurrent, very painful vesicles

“Unlike love herpes is forever”

Genital warts

Genital warts

  • Human papillomaviruses

  • HPV16 causes cervical cancer and cancer of the penis

  • DNA test to detect cancer-causing strains

  • Vaccination against HPV strains



  • Candida albicans

  • Severe itching and thick yellow cheesy discharge

  • Result from opportunistic overgrowth

  • Increased during pregnancy and in diabetic women



  • Trichomonasvaginalis

  • Protozoan

  • Found in semen or urine of male carriers

  • Vaginal infection causes irritation and profuse discharge (foul smelling, frothy)

  • Diagnosis by microscopic identification of protozoan

Intrauterine infections torch

Intrauterine Infections: TORCH

  • Toxoplasma

  • Other

    • Treponemapallidum

    • Listeriamonocytogenes

  • Rubella

  • Cytomegalovirus

  • Herpes simplex

Important to remember

Important to remember

  • Urethra opening (gram+ bacteria, Mycobacterium smegmatis) and vagina (Lactobacillus spec.) are populated by normal microbiota.

  • The female urethra is much shorter than the male. This and close vicinity to anus makes women more prone for urinary tract infections.

  • Diseases of the urinary system are mainly of bacterial origin. In out patients: E. coli, S. saprophyticus; associated with kidney stones: Proteus; noscomial: Enterococcusfaecalis, Klebsiella, Enterobacter, Pseudomonas.

  • Females often have less symptoms than men during an STI.

  • Infertility is a frequent complication after STI.

  • Diseases of the reproductive system of bacterial origin:Neisseriagonorrhoeae, Chlamydia trachomatis, Treponemapallidum; of viral: Herpes simplex 2, Papilloma virus; of fungal: Candidaalbicans; of protozoan: Trichomonasvaginalis

  • Birth defects are in particular associated with TORCH (Toxoplasma, Rubella , Cytomegalovirus, Herpes simplex).

Check your understanding

Check your understanding

1) Cystitis is most often caused by

A) Escherichia coli.

B) Leptospirainterrogans.

C) Candida albicans.

D) Neisseriagonorrhoeae.

E) Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

2) Which of the following is often diagnosed by detection of antibodies against the causative agent?

A) Nongonococcalurethritis

B) Gonorrhea

C) Syphilis

D) Cystitis

E) Candidiasis

3) Normal microbiota of the adult vagina consist primarily of

A) Lactobacillus.

B) Streptococcus.

C) Mycobacterium.

D) Neisseria.

E) Candida.

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