Uropathogenic Escherichia coli induces chronic pelvic pain

Charles N. Rudick, Ruth E. Berry, James R. Johnson, Brian Johnston, David J. Klumpp, Anthony J. Schaeffer, Praveen Thumbikat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) is a debilitating syndrome of unknown etiology often postulated, but not proven, to be associated with microbial infection of the prostate gland. We hypothesized that infection of the prostate by clinically relevant uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) can initiate and establish chronic pain. We utilized an E. coli strain newly isolated from a patient with CP/CPPS (strain CP1) and examined its molecular pathogenesis in cell culture and in a murine model of bacterial prostatitis. We found that CP1 is an atypical isolate distinct from most UPEC in its phylotype and virulence factor profile. CP1 adhered to, invaded, and proliferated within prostate epithelia and colonized the prostate and bladder of NOD and C57BL/6J mice. Using behavioral measures of pelvic pain, we showed that CP1 induced and sustained chronic pelvic pain in NOD mice, an attribute not exhibited by a clinical cystitis strain. Furthermore, pain was observed to persist even after bacterial clearance from genitourinary tissues. CP1 induced pelvic pain behavior exclusively in NOD mice and not in C57BL/6J mice, despite comparable levels of colonization and inflammation. Microbial infections can thus serve as initiating agents for chronic pelvic pain through mechanisms that are dependent on both the virulence of the bacterial strain and the genetic background of the host.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)628-635
Number of pages8
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011


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