Annelie Brauner Project

We investigate the interaction between the patient and bacteria in the urinary tract. We specially focus on early defense mechanisms which protect the body from invading bacteria; and how we can use these natural strategies for therapeutic purposes.

Innate immunity and E. coli in the urinary tract

Urinary tract infections (UTI) belong to the most common infections worldwide and are primarily caused by E. coli. To be able to infect the urinary tract, uropathogenic E. coli are equipped with a number of virulence factors, which allow the colonization of the tissue despite the defense mechanisms of the host. We are investigating this battle between host and pathogen, considering both aspects of the host and E. coli. Since we address clinical questions, most of our studies are based on clinical material; we apply cell culture systems and use molecular techniques to reveal underlying mechanisms.

We have analyzed extracellular matrix components involved in bacterial biofilm formation for their interaction with the host. Surprisingly, bacterial biofilm factors provide opposing effects in the pathogenesis of infection; while curli fimbrie promote adhesion and invasion of host cells, they also cause a stronger immune response. Other factors such as cellulose do protect the bacterium from immune recognition, but at the same time reduce the infectiveness of the strain. We have also discovered that adhesive curli fimbriae on one hand protect from, but at the same time are a target for the antimicrobial peptide LL-37, which plays an important role in the defense against UTI.

The instant response to bacterial infection is located at the epithelial cells lining the urinary tract, as these cells are the first in contact with the bacteria. This defense barrier is influenced by hormones such as vitamin D and estrogen. We have shown that exogenous supplementation with these hormones promote the antimicrobial properties of the urothelium, thus providing a prophylactic potential against UTI. Correspondingly, bacterial populations originating from patient groups with different hormonal background, i.e. pregnant or postmenopausal women, carry distinct repertoires of virulence factors.

The vagina is considered one major reservoir of E. coli infecting the urinary tract. Therefore, a disturbed vaginal microflora may have an impact on the susceptibility of the patient to UTI. Apart from bacteria, fungi such as Candida contribute to this microbial community. While Candida belongs to the commensal flora of the vaginal mucosa, it can also cause infections known as vaginal candidiasis. For reasons not well understood, these infections tend to recur in young, otherwise healthy women. Based on a unique collection of clinical material, we are investigating the mechanisms which may be responsible for this severe disease condition. In the light of increased antimicrobial resistance against conventional antibiotics, novel approaches to prevent and treat infections are highly needed. In ongoing studies we aim to further elucidate the above mentioned and additional endogenous defense mechanisms to develop alternative prevention and treatment strategies for potential clinical use.


Nanogel encapsulated hydrogels as advanced wound dressings for the controlled delivery of antibiotics.
FanY, LüchowM, ZhangY, LinJ, FortuinL, Mohanty S, Brauner A,Malkoch M.
Advanced Functional Materials, 2020; DOI: 10.1002/adfm.202006453

Anti-biofilm activity of chlorhexidine digluconate against Candida albicans vaginal isolates.
Alvendahl C, Mohanty S, Bohm-Starke N, Brauner A.
PLOS ONE, 2020; 10.1016/j.jhin. 2020.07.011

Containment of Antibiotic REsistance - measures to improve antibiotic use in pregnancy, childbirth and young children (CAREChild): a protocol of a prospective, quasi-experimental interventional study in Lao PDR.
Machowska A, Sihavong A, Eriksen J, Vongsouvath M, Marrone G, Sychareun V, Hanson C, Keohavong B, Brauner A, Mayxay M, Kounnavong S, Stålsby Lundborg C.
BMJ Open, 2020; 10:e040334. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2020-040334

Activation of NLRP3 by uropathogenic Escherichia coli is associated with IL-1β release and regulation of antimicrobial properties in human neutrophils
Demirel I, Persson A, Brauner A, Särndahl E, Kruse R, Persson K.
Scientific Reports 2020; 10 (1):21837. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-78651-1.

Ag@ZnO nanoparticles induce antimicrobial peptides and promote migration and antibacterial activity of keratinocytes.
Majhi RK, Mohanty S, Khan I, Mishra A, Brauner A.
American Soc Chemistry, 2021 doi: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.0c00903

Rapid diagnostic assay for detection of cellulose in urine as biomarker for biofilm-related urinary tract infections.
Antypas H, Choong FX, Libberton B, Brauner A, Richter-Dahlfors A
NPJ Biofilms Microbiomes 2018 ;4():26

Lupinus mutabilis Edible Beans Protect against Bacterial Infection in Uroepithelial Cells.
Kamolvit W, Nilsén V, Zambrana S, Mohanty S, Gonzales E, Östenson CG, et al
Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2018 ;2018():1098015

Analysis of the Ribonuclease A Superfamily of Antimicrobial Peptides in Patients Undergoing Chronic Peritoneal Dialysis.
Pottanat ND, Brook AC, Bartosova M, Cortado H, Gupta S, Li B, et al
Sci Rep 2019 05;9(1):7753

Vitamin D strengthens the bladder epithelial barrier by inducing tight junction proteins during E. coli urinary tract infection.
Mohanty S, Kamolvit W, Hertting O, Brauner A
Cell Tissue Res. 2020 Jun;380(3):669-673

Draft Genome Sequence of the Urinary Catheter Isolate Enterobacter ludwigii CEB04 with High Biofilm Forming Capacity.
Shafeeq S, Wang X, Lünsdorf H, Brauner A, Römling U
Microorganisms 2020 Apr;8(4):

The Diversity of Lipopolysaccharide (O) and Capsular Polysaccharide (K) Antigens of Invasive Klebsiella pneumoniae in a Multi-Country Collection.
Choi M, Hegerle N, Nkeze J, Sen S, Jamindar S, Nasrin S, et al
Front Microbiol 2020 ;11():1249

Making medical devices safer - impact of plastic and silicone oil on microbial biofilm formation.
Slettengren M, Mohanty S, Kamolvit W, van der Linden J, Brauner A
J. Hosp. Infect. 2020 Jul;():

Expression of Psoriasin in Human Papillomavirus-Induced Cervical High-Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions.
Alvendal C, Kamolvit W, Wagner S, Brauner A, Bohm-Starke N
J Low Genit Tract Dis 2019 Jan;23(1):33-38

Statins influence epithelial expression of the anti-microbial peptide LL-37/hCAP-18 independently of the mevalonate pathway.
Lüthje P, Walker S, Kamolvit W, Mohanty S, Pütsep K, Brauner A
Clin. Exp. Immunol. 2019 02;195(2):265-276

Discovery of New Genes Involved in Curli Production by a Uropathogenic Escherichia coli Strain from the Highly Virulent O45:K1:H7 Lineage.
Nhu NTK, Phan MD, Peters KM, Lo AW, Forde BM, Min Chong T, et al
mBio 2018 08;9(4):

Rapid Phenotypic Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing of Uropathogens Using Optical Signal Analysis on the Nanowell Slide.
Veses-Garcia M, Antypas H, Löffler S, Brauner A, Andersson-Svahn H, Richter-Dahlfors A
Front Microbiol 2018 ;9():1530

Association between vitamin D, antimicrobial peptides and urinary tract infection in infants and young children.
Georgieva V, Kamolvit W, Herthelius M, Lüthje P, Brauner A, Chromek M
Acta Paediatr. 2019 03;108(3):551-556

The neutrophil-mobilizing cytokine interleukin-26 in the airways of long-term tobacco smokers.
Che KF, Tufvesson E, Tengvall S, Lappi-Blanco E, Kaarteenaho R, Levänen B, et al
Clin. Sci. 2018 05;132(9):959-983

Psoriasin, a novel anti-Candida albicans adhesin.
Brauner A, Alvendal C, Chromek M, Stopsack KH, Ehrström S, Schröder JM, et al
J. Mol. Med. 2018 06;96(6):537-545

Activation of the NLRP3 Inflammasome Pathway by Uropathogenic Escherichia coli Is Virulence Factor-Dependent and Influences Colonization of Bladder Epithelial Cells.
Demirel I, Persson A, Brauner A, Särndahl E, Kruse R, Persson K
Front Cell Infect Microbiol 2018 ;8():81

Amaranthus caudatus extract inhibits the invasion of E. coli into uroepithelial cells.
Mohanty S, Zambrana S, Dieulouard S, Kamolvit W, Nilsén V, Gonzales E, et al
J Ethnopharmacol 2018 Jun;220():155-158

"It's a gut feeling" - Escherichia coli biofilm formation in the gastrointestinal tract environment.
Rossi E, Cimdins A, Lüthje P, Brauner A, Sjöling Å, Landini P, et al
Crit. Rev. Microbiol. 2018 Feb;44(1):1-30

Antibiotic Overconsumption in Pregnant Women With Urinary Tract Symptoms in Uganda.
Sekikubo M, Hedman K, Mirembe F, Brauner A
Clin. Infect. Dis. 2017 Aug;65(4):544-550

Alterations of c-di-GMP turnover proteins modulate semi-constitutive rdar biofilm formation in commensal and uropathogenic Escherichia coli.
Cimdins A, Simm R, Li F, Lüthje P, Thorell K, Sjöling Å, et al
Microbiologyopen 2017 10;6(5):

Vitamin D-deficient mice have more invasive urinary tract infection.
Hertting O, Lüthje P, Sullivan D, Aspenström P, Brauner A
PLoS ONE 2017 ;12(7):e0180810

Stand-Alone EAL Domain Proteins Form a Distinct Subclass of EAL Proteins Involved in Regulation of Cell Motility and Biofilm Formation in Enterobacteria.
El Mouali Y, Kim H, Ahmad I, Brauner A, Liu Y, Skurnik M, et al
J. Bacteriol. 2017 09;199(18):

Elevated nitric oxide in recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis - association with clinical findings.
Alvendal C, Ehrström S, Brauner A, Lundberg JO, Bohm-Starke N
Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2017 Mar;96(3):295-301

Extract of Clinopodium bolivianum protects against E. coli invasion of uroepithelial cells.
Mohanty S, Kamolvit W, Zambrana S, Sandström C, Gonzales E, Östenson CG, et al
J Ethnopharmacol 2017 Feb;198():214-220

Draft Genome Sequences of Semiconstitutive Red, Dry, and Rough Biofilm-Forming Commensal and Uropathogenic Escherichia coli Isolates.
Cimdins A, Lüthje P, Li F, Ahmad I, Brauner A, Römling U
Genome Announc 2017 Jan;5(4):

A ten-year retrospective case series of glucocorticoid treatment of bacterial meningitis in children.
Ygberg S, Brauner A, Chambers BJ, Wiklund C, Nilsson A
Acta Paediatr. 2016 Aug;105(8):979-82

Retuning of Mouse NK Cells after Interference with MHC Class I Sensing Adjusts Self-Tolerance but Preserves Anticancer Response.
Wagner AK, Wickström SL, Tallerico R, Salam S, Lakshmikanth T, Brauner H, et al
Cancer Immunol Res 2016 Feb;4(2):113-23

Depletion of IL-2 receptor β-positive cells protects from diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice.
Brauner H, Hall HT, Flodström-Tullberg M, Kärre K, Höglund P, Johansson S
Immunol. Cell Biol. 2016 Feb;94(2):177-84

Improved cell surface display of Salmonella enterica serovar Enteritidis antigens in Escherichia coli.
Gustavsson M, Do TH, Lüthje P, Tran NT, Brauner A, Samuelson P, et al
Microb. Cell Fact. 2015 Apr;14():47

Bacterial nanoscale cultures for phenotypic multiplexed antibiotic susceptibility testing.
Weibull E, Antypas H, Kjäll P, Brauner A, Andersson-Svahn H, Richter-Dahlfors A
J. Clin. Microbiol. 2014 Sep;52(9):3310-7

Markers of innate immune activity in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus and the effect of the anti-oxidant coenzyme Q10 on inflammatory activity.
Brauner H, Lüthje P, Grünler J, Ekberg NR, Dallner G, Brismar K, et al
Clin. Exp. Immunol. 2014 Aug;177(2):478-82

Estrogenic action on innate defense mechanisms in the urinary tract.
Lüthje P, Hirschberg AL, Brauner A
Maturitas 2014 Jan;77(1):32-6

Decoctions from Citrus reticulata Blanco seeds protect the uroepithelium against Escherichia coli invasion.
Vollmerhausen TL, Ramos NL, Dzung DT, Brauner A
J Ethnopharmacol 2013 Nov;150(2):770-4

Red meat allergy in Sweden: association with tick sensitization and B-negative blood groups.
Hamsten C, Tran TAT, Starkhammar M, Brauner A, Commins SP, Platts-Mills TAE, et al
J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 2013 Dec;132(6):1431-1434

Estrogen supports urothelial defense mechanisms.
Lüthje P, Brauner H, Ramos NL, Ovregaard A, Gläser R, Hirschberg AL, et al
Sci Transl Med 2013 Jun;5(190):190ra80

Clean intermittent catheterization and urinary tract infection: review and guide for future research.
Wyndaele JJ, Brauner A, Geerlings SE, Bela K, Peter T, Bjerklund-Johanson TE
BJU Int. 2012 Dec;110(11 Pt C):E910-7

Uropathogenic Escherichia coli isolates from pregnant women in different countries.
Ramos NL, Sekikubo M, Dzung DT, Kosnopfel C, Kironde F, Mirembe F, et al
J. Clin. Microbiol. 2012 Nov;50(11):3569-74

Septicaemia caused by Arcanobacterium haemolyticum smooth type in an immunocompetent patient.
Hedman K, Brauner A
J. Med. Microbiol. 2012 Sep;61(Pt 9):1328-1329

Do Escherichia coli strains causing acute cystitis have a distinct virulence repertoire?
Norinder BS, Köves B, Yadav M, Brauner A, Svanborg C
Microb. Pathog. 2012 Jan;52(1):10-6

Cellulose and PapG are important for Escherichia coli causing recurrent urinary tract infection in women.
Norinder BS, Lüthje P, Yadav M, Kadas L, Fang H, Nord CE, et al
Infection 2011 Dec;39(6):571-4

Labisia pumila var. alata reduces bacterial load by inducing uroepithelial cell apoptosis.
Fazliana M, Ramos NL, Lüthje P, Sekikubo M, Holm A, Wan Nazaimoon WM, et al
J Ethnopharmacol 2011 Jun;136(1):111-6

Characterisation of uropathogenic Escherichia coli from children with urinary tract infection in different countries.
Ramos NL, Dzung DT, Stopsack K, Jankó V, Pourshafie MR, Katouli M, et al
Eur. J. Clin. Microbiol. Infect. Dis. 2011 Dec;30(12):1587-93

Lactuca indica extract interferes with uroepithelial infection by Escherichia coli.
Lüthje P, Dzung DN, Brauner A
J Ethnopharmacol 2011 Jun;135(3):672-7

The erythropoietin analogue ARA290 modulates the innate immune response and reduces Escherichia coli invasion into urothelial cells.
Polgárová K, Lüthje P, Cerami A, Brauner A
FEMS Immunol. Med. Microbiol. 2011 Jul;62(2):190-6

Vitamin D induction of the human antimicrobial Peptide cathelicidin in the urinary bladder.
Hertting O, Holm Å, Lüthje P, Brauner H, Dyrdak R, Jonasson AF, et al
PLoS ONE 2010 Dec;5(12):e15580

Virulence characteristics of translocating Escherichia coli and the interleukin-8 response to infection.
Ramos NL, Lamprokostopoulou A, Chapman TA, Chin JC, Römling U, Brauner A, et al
Microb. Pathog. 2011 Feb;50(2):81-6

Uropathogenic Escherichia coli modulates immune responses and its curli fimbriae interact with the antimicrobial peptide LL-37.
Kai-Larsen Y, Lüthje P, Chromek M, Peters V, Wang X, Holm A, et al
PLoS Pathog. 2010 Jul;6(7):e1001010

Is there a risk of cancer development after Campylobacter infection?
Brauner A, Brandt L, Frisan T, Thelestam M, Ekbom A
Scand. J. Gastroenterol. 2010 Aug;45(7-8):893-7

Low immunogenicity allows Staphylococcus epidermidis to cause PD peritonitis.
Jung K, Lüthje P, Lundahl J, Brauner A
Perit Dial Int ;31(6):672-8

Ag43 promotes persistence of uropathogenic Escherichia coli isolates in the urinary tract.
Lüthje P, Brauner A
J. Clin. Microbiol. 2010 Jun;48(6):2316-7

Stereotyping at the undergraduate level revealed during interprofessional learning between future doctors and biomedical scientists.
Lewitt MS, Ehrenborg E, Scheja M, Brauner A
J Interprof Care 2010 Jan;24(1):53-62

Genetic relatedness and virulence gene profiles of Escherichia coli strains isolated from septicaemic and uroseptic patients.
Ramos NL, Saayman ML, Chapman TA, Tucker JR, Smith HV, Faoagali J, et al
Eur. J. Clin. Microbiol. Infect. Dis. 2010 Jan;29(1):15-23

Characteristics of biofilms from urinary tract catheters and presence of biofilm-related components in Escherichia coli.
Wang X, Lünsdorf H, Ehrén I, Brauner A, Römling U
Curr. Microbiol. 2010 Jun;60(6):446-53

Putative link between the virulence-associated fluA gene and fluoroquinolone resistance in uropathogenic Escherichia coli.
Lüthje P, Brauner A
J. Clin. Microbiol. 2010 Feb;48(2):675-6

Host species-specific translocation of Escherichia coli.
Katouli M, Ramos NL, Nettelbladt CG, Ljungdahl M, Robinson W, Ison HM, et al
Eur. J. Clin. Microbiol. Infect. Dis. 2009 Sep;28(9):1095-103

Characterization of cellulose production in Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 and its biological consequences.
Monteiro C, Saxena I, Wang X, Kader A, Bokranz W, Simm R, et al
Environ. Microbiol. 2009 May;11(5):1105-16

Antimicrobial mechanisms of the urinary tract.
Chromek M, Brauner A
J. Mol. Med. 2008 Jan;86(1):37-47

Cytotoxic necrotizing factor 1 (CNF1) induces an inflammatory response in the urinary tract in vitro but not in vivo.
Hertting O, Chromek M, Slamová Z, Kádas L, Söderkvist M, Vainumäe I, et al
Toxicon 2008 Jun;51(8):1544-7

The antimicrobial peptide cathelicidin protects the urinary tract against invasive bacterial infection.
Chromek M, Slamová Z, Bergman P, Kovács L, Podracká L, Ehrén I, et al
Nat. Med. 2006 Jun;12(6):636-41

Interleukin-8 response in cells from the human urinary tract induced by lipopolysaccharides of Proteus mirabilis O3 and O18.
Chromek M, Stankowska D, Dadfar E, Kaca W, Rabbani H, Brauner A
J. Urol. 2005 Apr;173(4):1381-4

Group Members

  • Annelie Brauner, professor and research group leader
  • Soumitra Mohanty post doc

Former Members

  • Musa Sekikubo, gynecologist and former doctoral student (now PhD, MD)
  • Cathrin Alvendal, gynecologist and former doctoral student (now PhD, MD)
  • Witchuda Kamolvit, post doc, leg doctor, clinical microbiology
  • Petra Lüthje, post doc
  • Nubia Ramos, post doc
  • Milan Chromek, currently a practicing pediatrician at Huddinge KI
  • Olof Herting, pediatrician at KI, PhD


Annelie Brauner

C1 Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology