Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Microbiology and Immunology


The current clinical dogma assumes that urine is sterile in the absence of clinically relevant infection. However, recent evidence has demonstrated the existence of a female urinary microbiota in women with and without lower urinary tract symptoms. With the knowledge that the lower urinary tract possesses its own unique microbiota, I hypothesize that certain bacterial species of the female microbiota may be the cause or play a role in lower urinary tract syndromes such as overactive bladder syndrome (OAB). About 40-50% of OAB patients do not respond to conventional anti-muscarinic and beta-3 adrenergic agonist drug treatment. One possible explanation for this lack of treatment response is a dysbiotic urinary microbiota. In order to determine if women with OAB have a dysbiotic urinary microbiota, an expanded quantitative urine culture (EQUC) protocol was used to culture transurethral catheter urine specimens obtained from women with and without OAB. There are differences in the female urinary microbiota in women with and without OAB. Given evidence of planktonic bacteria in the urine, I hypothesize that bacteria also may be associated with the urothelium. To examine this population, shed urothelial cells from urine were examined for the presence of adherent and/or intracellular bacteria using a new protocol. This new protocol is able to determine which bacteria associate with shed urothelial cells but cannot distinguish between adherent or intracellular bacteria. By determining the differences in urinary microbiota as well as the populations that associate with the urothelium, one can start to get a sense of how the female urinary microbiota could contribute to lower urinary tract disorders.

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