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Loss of fimbrial adhesion with the addition of Vaccinum macrocarpon to the growth medium of P-fimbriated Escherichia coli

Ahuja S, Kaack B, Roberts J.
J Urol 159(2):559-62

PURPOSE: Vaccinium macrocarpon--the American cranberry--irreversibly inhibits the expression of P-fimbriae of E. coli. Further effects on the function and expression of P-fimbriae were studied by growing P-fimbriated E. coli in solid media laced with cranberry juice.

METHODS: Cranberry concentrate at pH 7.0 was added to CFA medium to a final concentration of 25%. E. coli strains JR1 and DS17 were plated on this medium with a plain CFA control and incubated at 37C. Cultures were tested for ability to agglutinate P-receptor specific beads. Bacteria were washed in PBS and agglutination retested. Cultures were also replated on plain CFA agar and rechecked for their ability to agglutinate. Transmission electron micrographs were performed on positive control and test bacteria.

RESULTS: For E. coli strain JR1, P-fimbrial agglutination was inhibited after the third plating. DS17 was fully inhibited after the second plating. Washing in PBS did not affect agglutination, but replating on CFA agar allowed agglutination to recur. Electron micrographic study of control populations confirmed fimbriae. Fully inhibited bacteria had a 100% reduction in expression of fimbriae. Additionally, inhibited bacteria showed cellular elongation.

CONCLUSIONS: Cranberry juice irreversibly inhibits P-fimbriae. Electron micrographic evidence suggests that cranberry juice acts on the cell wall preventing proper attachment of the fimbrial subunits or as a genetic control preventing the expression of normal fimbrial subunits or both.