Women's Urogenital Ecology

Urinary tract infection (UTI) can be dangerous during pregnancy. In fact, pregnancy is the only time in a woman's life that even asymptomatic UTI has been linked with poor health outcomesClick here for our recent review detailing the risks of UTI in pregnancy and the global significance of this problem. 

Growing evidence supports the conclusion that the composition of the vaginal microbiota impacts a woman's susceptibility to UTI. Using an animal model, we have shown that Group B Streptococcus, a member of the vaginal microbiota in some women, can increase host susceptibility to developing chronic inflammatory UTI, kidney infection, and persistent intracellular reservoirs of uropathogenic E. coli (see Kline, 2012). Several clinical studies have also indicated that women with bacterial vaginosis have higher risks of urinary tract infection.

Translational Studies

We are investigating whether combinations of potential pathogens of the urinary and reproductive tracts may increase the risk of preterm labor, preterm birth, or other infection-associated complications of pregnancy. 

In addition, we are carrying out studies to measure mucus degrading enzymes in vaginal specimens from pregnant women. Our goal is to identify potentially useful combinations of these enzymes or their degradation products in predicting which women are at greatest risk of preterm birth or other complications of pregnancy.

 Photo: ASBMB

Clinical Partners

Our ability to conduct these translational research projects relies on our relationship with the Women's and Infant's Health Specimen Consortium here at Washington University School of Medicine. 


George Macones, M.D.; MSCE

Chair, Department of Ob/Gyn
Washington University


Kelle Moley, M.D.

Principal Investigator of the Women's and Infants Health Specimen Consortium (WIHSC)

President, Society for Gynecologic Investigation