Cranberry derivatives enhance biofilm formation and transiently impair swarming motility of the uropathogen Proteus mirabilis HI4320.
Proteus mirabilis is a major cause of catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI), emphasizing that novel strategies for targeting this bacterium are needed. Potential targets are P. mirabilis surface-associated swarming motility and the propensity of these bacteria to form biofilms that may lead to catheter blockage. We previously showed that the addition of cranberry powder (CP) to lysogeny broth (LB) medium resulted in impaired P. mirabilis swarming motility over short time periods (up to 16 h). Herein, we significantly expanded on those findings by exploring (i) the effects of cranberry derivatives on biofilm formation of P. mirabilis, (ii) whether swarming inhibition occurred transiently or over longer periods more relevant to real infections (~3 days), (iii) whether swarming was also blocked by commercially available cranberry juices, (iv) whether CP or cranberry juices exhibited effects under natural urine conditions, and (v) the effects of cranberry on medium pH, which is an indirect indicator of urease activity. At short time scales (24 h), CP and commercially available pure cranberry juice impaired swarming motility and repelled actively swarming bacteria in LB medium. Over longer time periods more representative of infections (~3 days), the capacity of the cranberry material to impair swarming diminished and bacteria would start to migrate across the surface, albeit by exhibiting a different motility phenotype to the regular "bull's-eye" swarming phenotype of P. mirabilis. This bacterium did not swarm on urine agar or LB agar supplemented with urea, suggesting that any potential application of anti-swarming compounds may be better suited to settings external to the urine environment. Anti-swarming effects were confounded by the ability of cranberry products to enhance biofilm formation in both LB and urine conditions. These findings provide key insights into the long-term strategy of targeting P. mirabilis CAUTIs.