New research by the Centenary Institute that has been published in the journal Microbiological Research, suggests that commonly prescribed anticoagulants – medicines, such as aspirin, that help prevent blood clots – may make urinary tract infections (UTIs) more severe.
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 septicaemia.
In older people the risk of developing severe UTIs often overlaps with conditions that require anticoagulant treatment.
The study was conducted looking at zebrafish, with the researchers finding that in zebrafish, the commonly prescribed anticoagulant medications (specifically aspirin and warfarin) increased UTI severity.
“We commonly use zebrafish in medical research to better understand diseases in order to find cures,” says Dr Stefan Oehlers, Head of the Centenary Institute’s Immune-Vascular Interactions Laboratory and the study’s senior author.
“Zebrafish share 70% of the same genes as people and 84% of human genes known to be associated with human diseases have a zebrafish counterpart. This makes them perfect for study.”
Dr Oehlers adds that UTI-associated sepsis is most often caused by uropathogenic Escherichia coli(UPEC), a bacterium that first infects the urinary system.
“We used the zebrafish to model the sepsis phase of UPEC infection,” explains Dr Oehlers.
“Using this model we demonstrated that commonly used anticoagulant medicines reduced zebrafish survival and increased UPEC bacteria burden.”
According to the researchers, the administration of the anticoagulant medications prevented natural clotting that would have helped to contain bacteria in the blood.
To read the research paper, visit: sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S094450132100224X