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Virulence. 2013 Jul 1;4(5):419-28. doi: 10.4161/viru.24930. Epub 2013 May 7.

Galleria mellonella larvae as an infection model for group A streptococcus.

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Department of Molecular Medicine & Pathology, School of Medical Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, NZ.


Group A streptococcus is a strict human pathogen that can cause a wide range of diseases, such as tonsillitis, impetigo, necrotizing fasciitis, toxic shock, and acute rheumatic fever. Modeling human diseases in animals is complicated, and rapid, simple, and cost-effective in vivo models of GAS infection are clearly lacking. Recently, the use of non-mammalian models to model human disease is starting to re-attract attention. Galleria mellonella larvae, also known as wax worms, have been investigated for modeling a number of bacterial pathogens, and have been shown to be a useful model to study pathogenesis of the M3 serotype of GAS. In this study we provide further evidence of the validity of the wax worm model by testing different GAS M-types, as well as investigating the effect of bacterial growth phase and incubation temperature on GAS virulence in this model. In contrast to previous studies, we show that the M-protein, among others, is an important virulence factor that can be effectively modeled in the wax worm. We also highlight the need for a more in-depth investigation of the effects of experimental design and wax worm supply before we can properly vindicate the wax worm model for studying GAS pathogenesis.


Galleria mellonellalarvae; Streptococcus pyogenes; group A streptococcus; in vivo; infection model; wax worms

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