The 'innate' host response protects and damages the infected urinary tract

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Symptoms of infection and tissue pathology are caused by the host response; not by the microbe per se. The same response is also critical for the defence and is needed to clear infection. It is therefore essential to understand how the host response is activated and to identify the critical effector mechanisms of the defence. We have studied these issues in the urinary tract infection (UTI) model. The symptoms of UTI and the host defence both rely on the so-called 'innate' immune system, making this one of the best characterized human disease models of 'innate immunity. We discuss the critical molecular events that determine whether the host response will be activated by P-fimbriated uropathogenic Escherichia coli as well as factors determining whether the patient develops acute pyelonephritis or asymptomatic bacteriuria. We will describe the glycoconjugate receptors used by the P-fimbriated bacteria adhering to host tissues, the recruitment of TLR4 co-receptors and the signalling pathways that allow progression to symptomatic disease, and discuss how these mechanisms are altered in asymptomatic carriers, presenting the possible genetic basis for unresponsiveness. We have shown that neutrophils are the critical effectors of the host defence and that neutrophil dysfunctions lead to acute pyelonephritis and renal scarring. Here we discuss the mechanisms of neutrophil-mediated, chemokine receptor (CXCR1)-dependent clearance, and the defect in interleukin-8 receptor homolog knock-out (IL-8Rh KO) mice and describe the data linking low CXCR1 expression to recurrent pyelonephritis in man, as well as the information on the genetic basis for low CXCR1 expression in affected patients. Finally, the mechanisms of renal scarring in IL8Rh KO mice will be discussed in relation to human disease. Our studies hold the promise to provide a molecular and genetic explanation for disease susceptibility in some patients with UTI and to offer more precise tools for the diagnosis and therapy of these infections.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Immunology in the medical area
  • Microbiology in the medical area
  • Pediatrics
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-570
JournalAnnals of Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Publication categoryResearch