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Researchers identify bacterial infection as a possible cause of bladder condition

Researchers identify bacterial infection as a possible cause of bladder condition

A team led by researchers at the University of Kent has identified bacterial infection as a possible cause of Overactive Bladder Syndrome (OAB).

OAB is a condition where the bladder muscle spontaneously contracts before the bladder is full. In the USA, it is ranked in the top 10 of common chronic conditions, competing with both diabetes and depression, with a reported prevalence of up to 31-42% in the adult population.

The researchers, including the Kent team from the Medway School of Pharmacy, found that some OAB patients had a low-grade inflammation which is missed by conventional NHS tests. This low-grade inflammation may ultimately result in increased sensory nerve excitation and the symptoms of OAB.

The study found that in these patients the low-grade inflammation is associated with bacteria living inside the bladder wall. This was an observational study which means that no conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect. However, the findings may prompt the clinical re-classification of OAB and inform future therapeutic strategies. These might include protracted treatment with antibiotics to alleviate the symptoms of OAB in some individuals.


The research, entitled Altered Urothelial ATP Signaling in Major Subset of Human Overactive Bladder Patients with Pyuria is published in the journal American Journal of Physiology.


Principal investigator was Dr Scott Wildman, of the Medway School of Pharmacy, Universities of Kent and Greenwich, and colleagues Alberto Contreras-Sanz, Louise Krska, Claire M. Peppiatt-Wildman and Stephen Kelley.

For interview requests contact Martin Herrema at the University of Kent Press Office.

Tel: 01227 823581/01634 888879

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Other authors were: Aswini A. Balachandran, Natasha L. Curtiss, Jonathan Duckett, Obstetrics and Urogynaecology, Medway Maritime Hospital, Kent; Rajvinder Khasriya and James Malone-Lee, UCL Medical School; Matthew Strutt, Department of Microbiology, East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust; Hardyal S. Gill, Kevin M. Taylor, Department of Pharmaceutics, UCL, School of Pharmacy, London, UK; Kylie J. Mansfield, School of Medicine, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia; Changhao Wu, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Surrey.


Established in 1965, the University of Kent – the UK’s European university – now has almost 20,000 students across campuses or study centres at Canterbury, Medway, Tonbridge, Brussels, Paris, Athens and Rome.

It has been ranked: third for overall student satisfaction in the 2014 National Student Survey; 16th in the Guardian University Guide 2016; 23rd in the Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2016; and 22nd in the Complete University Guide 2015.

In the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2015-16, Kent is in the top 10% of the world’s leading universities for international outlook and 66th in its table of the most international universities in the world. The THE also ranked the University as 20th in its ‘Table of Tables’ 2016.

Kent is ranked 17th in the UK for research intensity (REF 2014). It has world-leading research in all subjects and 97% of its research is deemed by the REF to be of international quality.

Along with the universities of East Anglia and Essex, Kent is a member of the Eastern Arc Research Consortium.

The University is worth £0.7 billion to the economy of the south east and supports more than 7,800 jobs in the region. Student off-campus spend contributes £293.3m and 2,532 full-time-equivalent jobs to those totals.

In 2014, Kent received its second Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.