Unlike urinary tract infection (UTI), asymptomatic bacteriuria (ABU) should not be treated, with some exceptions such as pregnant women and patients who will undergo traumatic urologic interventions. However, there has been no clinically available marker for their differential diagnosis. Exosomes or small extracellular vesicles carry proteins contained in cells from which they are derived, thus having the potential as a biomarker of several diseases. On the basis of the hypothesis that the molecular signature of exosomes in urine may differ between UTI and ABU patients, we examined if urinary exosomes could serve as a marker for their differential diagnosis. Exosomes were isolated by ultracentrifugation or affinity-based method from cell culture medium of monocytic THP-1 and uroepithelial SV-HUC-1 cells and human urine. Protein expression was examined by Western blot analysis, ELISA, and CLEIA. The results showed that the levels of intracellular signalling molecules Akt and ERK and transcription factor NF-κB increased in exosomes isolated from THP-1 and SV-HUC-1 cells cocultured with Escherichia coli and/or treated with lipopolysaccharide. In urinary exosomes of UTI patients, Akt significantly diminished, and an exosomal marker CD9 showed a trend to decrease after treatment with antimicrobial agents. More importantly, Akt and CD9 levels in urinary exosomes were higher in UTI patients than in ABU patients, which was also observed after correction by urine creatinine. Collectively, these results suggest that Akt and CD9 in urinary exosomes could be useful markers for differential diagnosis of UTI and ABU.
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