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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Inhibitors of bacterial growth in urine: what is the role of betaines?

It has long been recognised that some individuals produce urine that is inhibitory to uropathogens. This may be partly explained by inhibitors. Several inhibitors have been identified in urine including urea and organic acids. Bacteria adapt to high osmolarity by activating osmoregulated betaine porters and accumulating organic osmolytes intracellularly. The preferred substrate is glycine betaine, which is present in urine, and promotes rapid growth by balancing osmotic forces and stabilising macromolecular structures against the toxicity of urea and low pH. Other dietary betaines such as trigonelline may also be taken but enhance urea toxicity. The importance of such compounds in vivo is unknown.[1]


  1. Inhibitors of bacterial growth in urine: what is the role of betaines? Chambers, S.T., Peddie, B.A., Randall, K., Lever, M. Int. J. Antimicrob. Agents (1999) [Pubmed]
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