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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in Disease Models and Mechanisms

Volume 10, Issue 11, November 2017, Pages 1371-1379.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1242/dmm.030130. Copyright © Olson et al.


We present a new preclinical model to study treatment, resolution and sequelae of severe ascending pyelonephritis. Urinary tract infection (UTI), primarily caused by uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC), is a common disease in children. Severe pyelonephritis is the primary cause of acquired renal scarring in childhood, which may eventually lead to hypertension and chronic kidney disease in a small but important fraction of patients. Preclinical modeling of UTI utilizes almost exclusively females, which (in most mouse strains) exhibit inherent resistance to severe ascending kidney infection; consequently, no existing preclinical model has assessed the consequences of recovery from pyelonephritis following antibiotic treatment. We recently published a novel mini-surgical bladder inoculation technique, with which male C3H/HeN mice develop robust ascending pyelonephritis, highly prevalent renal abscesses and evidence of fibrosis. Here, we devised and optimized an antibiotic treatment strategy within this male model to more closely reflect the clinical course of pyelonephritis. A 5-day ceftriaxone regimen initiated at the onset of abscess development achieved resolution of bladder and kidney infection. A minority of treated mice displayed persistent histological abscess at the end of treatment, despite microbiological cure of pyelonephritis; a matching fraction of mice 1 month later exhibited renal scars featuring fibrosis and ongoing inflammatory infiltrates. Successful antibiotic treatment preserved renal function in almost all infected mice, as assessed by biochemical markers 1 and 5 months post-treatment; hydronephrosis was observed as a late effect of treated pyelonephritis. An occasional mouse developed chronic kidney disease, generally reflecting the incidence of this late sequela in humans. In total, this model offers a platform to study the molecular pathogenesis of pyelonephritis, response to antibiotic therapy and emergence of sequelae, including fibrosis and renal scarring. Future studies in this system may inform adjunctive therapies that may reduce the long-term complications of this very common bacterial infection.

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