Researchers reveal that cranberry juice is much better at preventing biofilm formation, the precursor of a urinary tract infection, than cranberry extracts. Having scientific research now proving the age old wisdom that cranberries are able to prevent a urinary tract infection, experts questioned if there’s a component of the berry that, when extracted plus condensed, probably in pill form, could be as beneficial as drinking cranberry juice or eating the sauce in preventing a urinary tract infection.
Researchers examined proanthocyanidins or PACs, a group of flavonoids present in cranberries. Since they were considered to be the ingredient which provides the juice its urinary tract infection fighting qualities, PACs are regarded as a hopeful target for a beneficial extract. This study, however, reveals that cranberry juice, itself, is much better at preventing biofilm formation, the precursor of urinary tract infection, than PACs on their own
The researchers explore the mechanisms that the virulent form of E coli bacteria, the primary cause of most urinary tract infections in people, uses to form biofilms. This strain of E coli is covered with small hair-like projections known as fimbriae that act like hooks and latch onto cells that line the urinary tract. When enough of the virulent E coli bacteria adhere to cells, they form a biofilm and cause an infection. Previous work by the researchers has shown that exposure to cranberry juice causes the fimbriae on E coli to curl up, reducing their ability to attach to urinary tract cells.
They incubated 2 strains of E coli together with 2 different mixes of commercially obtainable cranberry juice. The researchers also incubated the E coli individually together with PACs, but not juice. The juice cultures prevented biofilm formation completely, but the PACs demonstrated only limited biofilm formation reduction ability, and only after longer exposure to the bacteria.
Cranberries have for many years been known for their health benefits, particularly in preventing a urinary tract infection. While the mechanisms of action of cranberry products on bacterial adhesion and biofilm formation are not fully understood, this research demonstrates that cranberry juice is better for the inhibition of biofilm formation than PACs or isolated A-type cranberry flavonoids.