Chronic Bladder Infections

With the high rate of bladder infection in women and the frequent recurrences, medical researchers have long searched for explanations for the recurrent episodes.  Researchers and Washington University School of Medicine believe they may be on the trail of why this happens and not surprisingly for a functional medicine doctor, it has to do with chronic inflammation.

            With millions of women suffering yearly with bladder infections, a treatment to prevent recurrences would go a long way in relieving much suffering.  Researchers noted that some women are at higher risk for recurrences and looked for an explanation.  They created a mouse model and learned that mice also differ in their recurrence risk.  The mice which did not fare well with a second bacterial intrusion were the ones who experienced chronic TNF alpha (tumor necrosis factor alpha) stimulation.  If the mouse mounted a swift TNF alpha response but quickly turned it off when infection was gone, they fared well.  If the TNF alpha activation continued longer, the ongoing inflammation appeared to allow infection to continue or recur.

            If the initial infection causes excessive inflammation, the cells lining the bladder are primed to overreact the next time and make infection more likely.  This led the researchers to recommend a further search for anti-inflammatory therapies.

            Interesting to hear the echoes of functional medicine speaking through mainstream science. We have been urging attention to chronic inflammation as a major contributor to chronic illness for years.  The sad part in this case is that they don’t mention looking for the triggers to prevent.  They go straight to “treatment” strategies.  Maybe looking for toxins or occult infections might be a better… and cheaper approach rather than spending billions on the next pharmaceutical solution?  Oh well, we in functional medicine can keep working on convincing them of better research targets one day.  Until then we can work on lowering inflammation to help others live healthier more abundant lives.


Original Article

Lu Yu, Valerie P O’Brien, Jonathan Livny, Denise Dorsey, Nirmalya Bandyopadhyay, Marco Colonna, Michael G Caparon, Elisha DO Roberson, Scott J Hultgren, Thomas J Hannan. Mucosal infection rewires TNFɑ signaling dynamics to skew susceptibility to recurrence. eLife, 2019; 8 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.46677


Thanks to Science Daily

Washington University School of Medicine. “Why initial UTIs increase susceptibility to further infection: Prior infections can cause lasting changes to bladder’s immune response.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 August 2019. <>.

Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.

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