Inhibition of Bacterial Adhesins

As mentioned earlier, bacteria causing UTIs have one of two types of adhesins that allow the bacteria to stick to tissues in the body. Urine from mice and humans fed cranberry juice cocktail prevented adhesion of E. coli to isolated bladder cells (Sobota, 1984), lending support to the idea that active compounds must be present in the urine. The same study diluted cranberry juice, cranberry juice cocktail, and concentrate, and dilution up to 1:100 significantly reduced bacterial adhesion compared with the saline control. A subsequent study found that cranberry juice was less effective in removing bacteria that were already attached to tissues (Schmidt and Sobota, 1988), suggesting that cranberry juice may have more potential as a preventative measure than as a cure. Drinking cranberry juice twice daily reduced the number of blood cells in the urine of 17 disabled children, but E. coli was still recovered (Rogers, 1991). Cranberry juice appeared to reduce mucus formation in those catheterized children with spina bifida.

Yeast aggregation by E. coli is used to measure the mannose-binding potential of the bacteria; this test approximates the ability of bacteria to adhere to urinary tract tissue. Fructose concentrations of 5%, whether in cranberry juice cocktail or as a fructose solution, produced 50% inhibition yeast agglutination by three strains of E. coli, even at a 1:52 dilution for Strain 346 (Zafriri, et al., 1989).

A letter to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine reported that only blueberry and cranberry juices contained an MR-inhibitor among seven juices tested (Ofek et al., 1991). However, only data for the cranberry inhibitor has been published. Correspondence with Dr. Itzhak Ofek of Tel Aviv University revealed that the group had little data on blueberries, and that no data had been published on the inhibitory effect of blueberries. The inhibitor from both cranberries and blueberries had a molecular weight over 15000, and was acid-resistant but sensitive to high pH (Ofek et al., 1996).

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