Characterization of pig skin microbiome and appraisal as an in vivo subcutaneous injection model

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Pig skin is commonly used in the medical industry as an injection model due to its compelling physiological affinity to human skin. However, the pig neck skin microflora remains largely uncharacterized, which may have undesirable implications for the translatability of results to humans. This study aimed to characterize pig neck skin microbiome with direct comparison with human skin microflora at emblematic injection sites to appraise its suitability as an injection model. Ten minipigs were sampled with tape strips and swabs and analysed by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry and 16S/ITS high throughput sequencing and confocal laser scanning microscopy. Results were directly compared with previous investigations of human injection sites. Pig skin was dominated by phyla 94.8% Firmicutes, 3% Proteobacteria, and 2.2% Actinobacteria. Staphylococcus spp. prevailed (44.4%) at the genus level with S. capitis and S. chromogenes present in all samples. Pig skin revealed populations in the 104 colony-forming units (CFU)/cm2 range with 3% identified as Gram-negative and increased alpha diversity (compared with 102 CFU/cm2 and 10% in humans). While notable taxonomical differences on species levels were seen, pig skin encompassed 97.1% of genera found in human samples. The increased population and variation found support the pig neck as an imperfect but fidelitous subcutaneous injection model that can adequately challenge devices from a microbial standpoint.

Original languageEnglish
JournalLaboratory Animals
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)304-318
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.

    Research areas

  • Immunology, injection, microorganism, organisms and models, physiology, pigs, species comparison, techniques

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