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WPI research shows how cranberry juice fights bacteria at the molecular level
Date:7/15/2010

scope (AFM). The probe was then dipped in a solution containing human uroepithelial cells, which line the urinary tract. The fimbriae on the E. coli latched onto to specific structures on the human cells, similar to the way the two halves of a Velcro fastener come together. The probe on the AFM was then pulled away from the human cells, measuring the amount of force needed to tear the E. coli away. "We know, on average, how many fimbriae are on each E. coli cell. And the total force we measured correlates with that number. So the data lead us to believe that the fimbriae each bind to a specific receptor on the uroepithelial cells," Camesano said.

The experiment was repeated numerous times with solutions containing human cells and various concentrations of commercially available cranberry juice cocktail. The data showed that the attachment force of the virulent E. coli weakened as the amount of cranberry juice cocktail increased. The study also showed that a strain of E. coli without fimbriae did not bind well to the human urinary tract cells, regardless of the concentration of cranberry juice cocktail, providing further evidence that fimbriae are essential for infection.

Furthermore, Camesano's team found that in the absence of cranberry juice, the strength of the virulent E. coli's bond to the human cells was so strong that it could not be broken by the typical force of urine flowing through a person's urinary tract. However, as the cranberry juice concentration increased, the bond weakened to the point where the E. coli could be stripped away by the force of flowing urine. "The shear force created by flowing urine is a defense mechanism against urinary tract infection," Camesano said.

Since bacterial adhesion is required for infection, Camesano said understanding the specific mechanisms and forces involved will help direct future studies aimed at identifying potential drug targets for new
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Contact: Michael Cohen
mcohen@wpi.edu
508-868-4778
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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