Estrogen treatment induces the production of antimicrobial peptides and physically strengthens urinary tract tissue, providing support for its beneficial effect on urinary tract infections (UTIs), according to a study published in Science Translational Medicine.
Petra Lüthje, Ph.D., from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and colleagues studied the effect of estrogen on urothelial cells from menstruating and postmenopausal women, in a mouse model of UTI and in two human urothelial cell lines.
The researchers found that estrogen modulated two epithelial defense mechanisms. Estrogen induced the expression of antimicrobial peptides in the urothelium and promoted the expression and altered the distribution of proteins. These two mechanisms restricted bacterial multiplication and strengthened epithelial integrity.
“Thus, this study presents some underlying mechanisms for the beneficial effect of estradiol after menopause and supports the application of estrogen in postmenopausal women suffering from recurrent UTI,” Lüthje and colleagues conclude.