New research by the Centenary Institute suggests that commonly prescribed anticoagulants – medicines, such as aspirin, that help prevent blood clots – may make urinary tract infections (UTIs) more severe.
Dr Stefan Oehlers. Image Credit: Centenary Institute
One of the most common infections worldwide, UTIs are not normally serious or life threatening but in rare cases can progress into sepsis, also known as septicemia.
In older people the risk of developing severe UTIs often overlaps with conditions that require anticoagulant treatment.
Researchers found that in zebrafish, the commonly prescribed anticoagulant medications – specifically aspirin and warfarin – increased UTI severity.
We commonly use zebra fish in medical research to better understand diseases in order to find cures.
Zebrafish share 70 percent of the same genes as people and 84 percent of human genes known to be associated with human diseases have a zebra fish counterpart. This makes them perfect for study.”
Dr Stefan Oehlers, Head of the Centenary Institute’s Immune-Vascular Interactions Laboratory, Study Senior Author
Dr Oehlers said that UTI-associated sepsis is most often caused by nonpathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC), a bacterium that first infects the urinary system.
We used the zebra fish to model the sepsis phase of UPEC infection.
Using this model we demonstrated that commonly used anticoagulant medicines reduced zebra fish survival and increased UPEC bacteria burden.”
Dr Stefan Oehlers
The researchers believe that the administration of the anticoagulant medications prevented natural clotting that would have helped to contain bacteria in the blood.
The research was published in the journal Microbiological Research.
Tran, V.T., et al. (2021) Common anti-haemostatic medications increase the severity of systemic infection by uropathogenic Escherichia coli. Microbiological Research. doi.org/10.1016/j.micres.2021.126918.