New research that sheds light on the biological mechanisms behind cranberry's protective properties for recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI) may also point towards a potential role for cranberry derivatives in medical devices.
Consumption of cranberry proanthocyanidins (PACs) in for form of juice or a powdered extract could reduce the risk of recurring or chronic UTIs by blocking the ability of certain bacteria implicated in UTIs to move, colonise and grow, according to new research from Canada.
The study, published in the Canadian Journal of Microbiology, found that cranberry powder inhibited the ability of Proteus mirabilis, a bacterium frequently implicated in complicated UTIs, to swarm on agar plates and swim within the agar.
The team, led by Professor Nathalie Tufenkji of McGill University also found that that increasing concentrations of cranberry powder reduced the bacteria's production of urease - an enzyme that contributes to the virulence of infections.
"While the effects of cranberry in living organisms remain subject to further study, our findings highlight the role that cranberry consumption might play in the prevention of chronic infections," said Tufenkji, who noted that the new results build on previous work by the McGill lab, which suggested that cranberry materials hinder movement of other bacteria involved in UTIs.
Meanwhile, a second study from Tufenkji, in collaboration with McGill's Professor Showan Nazhat, showed that cranberry-enriched silicone substrates impaired the spread of Proteus mirabilis - pointing to the potential for cranberry derivatives to block the spread of bacteria in medical equipment and medical devices such as catheters.
"Based on the demonstrated bioactivity of cranberry, its use in catheters and other medical devices could someday yield considerable benefits to patient health," Tufenkji added.