Urinary cell-free DNA is a versatile analyte for monitoring infections of the urinary tract
Urinary tract infections are one of the most common infections in humans. Here we tested the utility of urinary cell-free DNA (cfDNA) to comprehensively monitor host and pathogen dynamics in bacterial and viral urinary tract infections. We isolated cfDNA from 141 urine samples from a cohort of 82 kidney transplant recipients and performed next-generation sequencing. We found that urinary cfDNA is highly informative about bacterial and viral composition of the microbiome, antimicrobial susceptibility, bacterial growth dynamics, kidney allograft injury, and host response to infection. These different layers of information are accessible from a single assay and individually agree with corresponding clinical tests based on quantitative PCR, conventional bacterial culture, and urinalysis. In addition, cfDNA reveals the frequent occurrence of pathologies that remain undiagnosed with conventional diagnostic protocols. Our work identifies urinary cfDNA as a highly versatile analyte to monitor infections of the urinary tract.