Bacterial Infections Countered By Cranberry Juice Than Extracts

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It has been an age-old wisdom that cranberries, taken either as a sauce or as a juice, can be a great prevention and treatment for urinary tract infections. In fact, scientific studies have already given proof and evidence that the acidic nature of the cranberry juice is indeed an effective form of treatment and prevention against UTI. But scientific curiosity has given rise to queries as to whether an extracted and condensed form of the drug, i.e. pill form, can be as effective as drinking the natural juice form or eating cranberry sauce. To satisfy this scientific inquiry, researchers from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute have conducted a study.

The study conducted by the researchers tested proanthocyanidins or PACs—a group of flavanoids which can be found in cranberries. These elements were thought to be responsible for the bactericidal effects and infection-ousting property of the said juice. The PACs were also considered as the target for creating cranberry extracts. In the report of the WPI, it has been shown that cranberry juice, in its purest form, is a far more better option of preventing biofilm formation, which is the precursor of UTI, rather than using PACs alone. Such data is reported in the paper “Impact of Cranberry Juice and Proanthocyanidins on the Ability of Escherichia coli to Form Biofilms,” which will be published on-line, ahead of print, Oct. 31, 2011, by the journal Food Science and Biotechnology.

“What we have shown is that cranberry juice’s ability to prevent biofilms is more complex than we may have originally thought,” according to Terri Camesano, professor of chemical engineering at WPI and senior author on the paper. “For a while, the field focused on these PACs, but the data shows that they aren’t the silver bullet.”

Camesano’s study explored the mechanisms of the bacteria E. coli, which is the most common cause of UTI. They further identified the process of biofilm formation. The E. coli strain responsible for UTI contains fimbria—hairlike projections which allow them to cling onto the urinary tract. When a sufficient amount of bacteria have already stuck themselves in the urinary tract, these bacteria form a biofilm, thus causing the infection. Previously, Camesano’s studies have also shown that the cranberry juice has caused the fimbria of the E. coli to curl up, making them lose their grasp in the urinary tract.

“Cranberries have been recognized for their health benefits for a number of years, especially in the prevention of UTIs,” according to the report of the authors in the paper. “While the mechanisms of action of cranberry products on bacterial adhesion and biofilm formation are not fully understood…this study shows that cranberry juice is better at inhibiting biofilm formation than isolated A-type cranberry flavonoids and PACs, although the reasons for this are not yet clear.”

According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, “Infections of the urinary tract are the second most common type of infection in the body. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) account for about 8.3 million doctor visits each year. Women are especially prone to UTIs for reasons that are not yet well understood. One woman in five develops a UTI during her lifetime. UTIs in men are not as common as in women but can be very serious when they do occur.”




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