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DNA Cell Biol. 2002 May-Jun;21(5-6):375-82.

Corneal virulence of Staphylococcus aureus in an experimental model of keratitis.

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Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Parasitology, LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112, USA.


The aim of this study was to determine the pathogenic role of alpha-, beta-, and gamma-toxins in a rabbit model of Staphylococcus aureus keratitis. S. aureus strains 8325-4, Newman, and their isogenic mutants were intrastromally injected into rabbit corneas. Eyes were scored for pathology by slit lamp examination (SLE), histologic examination, and bacterial colony-forming units (CFU) per cornea were determined. Rabbits were immunized against alpha-toxin and subsequently challenged with S. aureus strain 8325-4 or Newman. All strains grew equivalently to approximately 7 log CFU/cornea at 25 h postinfection. SLE scores at 15, 20, and 25 h postinfection revealed that alpha-toxin - producing strains caused greater corneal pathology than strains deficient in alpha-toxin. A beta-toxin - deficient mutant produced significantly less ocular edema than its parent or rescued strains. The gamma-toxin-deficient mutant, relative to its parent strain or genetically rescued strain, had reduced virulence. These results demonstrate that the virulence of S. aureus involves mainly alpha-toxin and to a lesser extent gamma-toxin, with beta-toxin mediating minimal corneal pathology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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