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J Infect Dis. 2010 Jan 1;201(1):92-6. doi: 10.1086/648613.

Augmented production of Panton-Valentine leukocidin toxin in methicillin-resistant and methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus is associated with worse outcome in a murine skin infection model.

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Departments of Microbiology and Immunology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, USA.


The role of Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) in Staphylococcus aureus infections is controversial. We used a mouse model of skin infection to compare the virulence of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) and methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) strains with different levels of PVL production. Differences in PVL production were not associated with mutations in the genes lukS-PV and lukF-PV. However, MSSA and MRSA strains that produced high levels of PVL caused larger skin abscesses, higher bacterial burdens, and more tissue inflammation than did low-PVL-producing strains. Together, these data suggest that (1) the effect of PVL on the pathogenesis of staphylococcal infection may depend on the level of toxin produced and (2) many strains of MSSA that cause soft-tissue infections produce higher levels of PVL than do MRSA strains.

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