Rethinking the Inoculum Used in Animal Models of Implant-Associated Osteomyelitis – The Formation and Application of Bacterial Aggregates

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Aim: To make an inoculum for induction of Implant-Associated Osteomyelitis (IAO) in pigs based on bacterial aggregates resembling those found on the human skin, i.e. aggregates of 5-15 µm with low metabolic activity. The aggregates were evaluated and compared to a standard planktonic bacterial inoculum.
Method: The porcine Staphylococcus aureus strain S54F9 was cultured in Tryptone Soya Broth for seven days. Subsequently, the culture was filtered through cell strainers with pore sizes of 15 µm and 5 µm, respectively. The fraction of 5-15 µm aggregates in the top of the 5 µm filter was collected as the aggregate-inoculum. The separation of aggregates into different size fractions was evaluated by light microscopy. The metabolism of the aggregate-inoculum and a standard overnight planktonic inoculum was evaluated with isothermal microcalorimetry.In total, six female minipigs were allocated into three groups (n=2), receiving different inoculums. Group A: overnight planktonic inoculum; 104 CFU S. aureus (S54F9), Group B: seven days old 5-15 µm aggregate-inoculum; 104 CFU S. aureus (S54F9), Group C: saline. All inoculums were placed in a pre-drilled implant cavity in the right tibia of the pig and a sterile stainless-steel implant was inserted. The pigs were euthanized seven days after surgery. Postmortem macroscopic pathology, microbiology, computed tomography and histopathology were performed.
Results: The separation of aggregates into different size fractions was done successfully by the filtering method. Isothermal microcalorimetry showed, a delayed Time-to-peak metabolic activity of the aggregate-inoculum compared to the planktonic inoculum. S. aureus was isolated from subcutis, bone and implants from all animals in groups A and B. Both group A animals showed osteomyelitis at gross inspection with suppuration and sequestration, while groups B and C animals had no macroscopic lesions. From CT scans, both group A animals also showed positive signs of osteomyelitis, i.e., osteolysis, while only one animal in group B did, and none in group C. Histopathological examination of the bones showed more extensive inflammation in group A animals compared to those in group B, which showed more osteoid formation.
Conclusions: Formation and separation of low metabolism bacterial aggregates into different size fractions was possible. The aggregates can be used as inoculum in the porcine IAO model, with microbiological re-isolation from both implants and tissue. Furthermore, the aggregates caused a less aggressive IAO, than the planktonic counterparts. Using aggregated bacteria as inoculum appears to be more relevant to the clinical situation of infecting bacteria.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2023
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventEBJIS 2023: 41st Annual Meeting of the European Bone and Joint Infection Society - Basel, Switzerland
Duration: 12 Oct 202314 Oct 2023


ConferenceEBJIS 2023

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